A place dominated by Mercedes continued to be under their control, as Rosberg topped the opening session to the 2016 Russian Grand Prix.
While low levels of grip saw many run off, Red Bull were running off with the limelight as Daniel Ricciardo ran the Aeroscreen for the first time. Red Bull’s answer to Ferrari’s Halo saw a windscreen attached to his RB12, for one lap, while Rosberg topped the session with distance to the field.
Nico, joined by Lewis, led the session from the off with the duo posting times in the early stages. But while they etched their names onto the leaderboard, Red Bull were the focus in the pitlane as they wheeled their car back into the garage with the Aeroscreen attached.
Red Bull’s answer to Ferrari’s Halo concept, trialled briefly during pre-season testing, saw a windscreen-esque prototype piece attached to the car which surrounded the drivers head. The move to trial the head protection concept on the Red Bull allowed the team the chance to see how fans reacted, while the FIA looks at which concept could be implemented in 2017.
Along with one on-track lap, Red Bull released video footage over the course of the session which showed their Aeroscreen being put through varying safety tests – which included a tyre being shot at it at speeds of 225 km/h.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) April 29, 2016
From the above video, the tyre was deflected successfully away from the ‘drivers’ head. However in the first impact, the tyre did skim off the top of the head as it was deflected away from a front on impact. Now, the head used in the test is situated higher than Daniel Ricciardo appeared in the car when using the canopy, but other drivers do sit in different positions which could mean further tests are needed on this concept to determine if it would be as safe and effective as other designs.
In terms of action in Russia, turns 2 and 15 caught out a handful of drivers with Lewis Hamilton twice spinning at the heavy braking second corner. While Ferrari-rival Sebastian Vettel was one to fall victim at turn 15, before spinning again at turn 17 after losing the rear.
Nevertheless, both Vettel and Hamilton ended the session within the top three. Albeit over seven tenths behind Rosberg as the championship leader set the early pace.
Behind the Ferrari and Mercedes duos came Massa, Ricciardo and Bottas as the then Aeroscreen less Red Bull strongly finished ahead of his team-mate. While Massa put his initial clutch issue behind him to end the morning three-hundredths off Raikkonen.
Further down the pecking order saw Sergey Sirotkin make his Formula One weekend debut for Renault as the Russian sat in for Kevin Magnussen. But despite not driving the car before, the home-driver ended the session in a competitive 13th place while his British team-mate, Jolyon Palmer, sat down in 18th.
Fellow FP1 test driver Alfonso Celis ended the session far off the pace in last place as the Force India reserve could only manage a 1:43.432.
|10||Carlos Sainz Jr.||1:40.654||2.527||21|
|22||Alfonso Celis Jr.||1:43.432||5.305||23|
Photos used copyright of the Red Bull Racing Team