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F1 NEWS 

Malaysian GP: Nico Rosberg ends Friday on top for Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Malaysian GP 2014, Sepang

Nico Rosberg ended the first day of Malaysian Grand Prix practice fastest for Mercedes, continuing his strong run of form at the start of the 2014 Formula 1 season.

The Australian Grand Prix winner was among the first of the frontrunners to switch onto the faster medium-compound tyre.

He knocked Felipe Massa's Williams, which had been the first to top the timesheets on the quicker rubber, off top spot shortly after the 30-minute mark.

Rosberg's Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton went second fastest, a tenth-and-a-half slower than Rosberg, shortly afterwards but appeared to have the pace to go quicker but for a slow middle sector.

The Mercedes were then split by the back-on-form Kimi Raikkonen, who was only 0.035s slower than Rosberg as he went second for Ferrari.

This was just enough to retain second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, whose Red Bull set its fastest time on his second flying lap on medium rubber, which suggests the RB10 is proving to be kind on its tyres in the heat of Malaysia.

Fernando Alonso ended up fifth fastest, half a tenth slower than Hamilton and just eight thousandths of a second quicker than Massa.

Follow Malaysian GP practice day on AUTOSPORT Live

Alonso had earlier set the pace when the field was running on fresh hard rubber, his earlier lap of 1m40.737s good enough to shade Hamilton on the Mercedes driver's best mark on the slower Pirellis.

Jenson Button, driving the upgraded McLaren that includes a modified nose as part of a significant update package, was eighth fastest behind Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull, which suffered a brief off late in the session, and ahead of Bottas in the second Williams.

But Button's team-mate had a more difficult day. Kevin Magnussen was forced to stop during the morning session when an exhaust temperature sensor warning kicked in and he completed only a couple of installation laps early on in practice two before going straight into his medium-tyre running and ending up 12th fastest.

Full driver quotes and data on FORIX

The session was characterised by plenty of spectacular moments as drivers struggled for rear-end grip.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a spin at the final corner and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg locked up and ran through the gravel at the exit of the same turn, later setting a time good enough to beat the Frenchman into the top 10.

Romain Grosjean's Lotus parks, Malaysian GP 2014, Sepang

Marussia driver Max Chilton also suffered a spin at Turn 3 early in the session. He was unable to get the car going again, but was recovered to the pits and returned to the track later on.

Lotus endured another difficult session. Pastor Maldonado did not run at all because of what is believed to be a turbo problem that developed in morning practice.

Team-mate Romain Grosjean did take to the track, but his running was first interrupted and then ended prematurely by a gearbox problem.

Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi was unable to run because of an energy store problem that cropped up during morning practice and a subsequent gearbox issue, although team-mate Marcus Ericsson was able to complete a full programme.

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m39.909s           30
 2.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m39.944s  +0.035s  30
 3.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m39.970s  +0.061s  30
 4.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m40.051s  +0.142s  32
 5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m40.103s  +0.194s  29
 6.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m40.112s  +0.203s  34
 7.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m40.276s  +0.367s  29
 8.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m40.628s  +0.719s  28
 9.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m40.638s  +0.729s  35
10.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m40.691s  +0.782s  34
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m40.777s  +0.868s  33
12.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m41.014s  +1.105s  20
13.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m41.257s  +1.348s  28
14.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m41.325s  +1.416s  32
15.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m41.407s  +1.498s  34
16.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m41.671s  +1.762s  25
17.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m42.531s  +2.622s  14
18.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m43.638s  +3.729s  20
19.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m43.752s  +3.843s  29
20.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault      1m45.703s  +5.794s  31
21.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault                           0
22.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault                              0
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