Malaysian GP: Rosberg fastest in practice, problems for Hamilton

Nico Rosberg topped opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton completing only four laps before stopping on track

Malaysian GP: Rosberg fastest in practice, problems for Hamilton

The German was fastest by a second during the first half-hour of the 90 minutes of running.

Rosberg then bolted on his second set of hard-compound Pirelli tyres and improved his time by 0.437s, although some strong sector times suggested that he could have been even quicker.

Hamilton was unable to complete a flying lap after aborting his first four-lap run and then grinding to a halt on his fifth lap at Turn 9.

Radio communications suggested that this was a precautionary measure because of concerns about damaging the engine, leading to the team telling Hamilton to shut the car down rather than bringing it back to the pits.

Hamilton's absence meant that Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was able to end the session second fastest, banging in a lap just 0.373s off Rosberg in the dying moments of the session.

Raikkonen had run well on his first set of hard rubber, although he did have a brief off at Turn 15, ending up as best of the rest.

He then set a time within nine tenths of Rosberg before his late improvement.

Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel had a troubled start to the day, failing to set a time on his first set of tyres, which can only be used during the first 30 minutes of the session.

But he returned to the track late and went third fastest, 0.861s down, momentarily snatching second from Raikkonen late in the session, seconds before the Finn improved again.

Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest for Lotus, although one of the stars of the session was Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr in fifth.

The Spaniard was second fastest in the first half-hour and that time proved to be good enough for fifth overall even though he was unable to make the expected improvement on his second set of tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest ahead of Max Verstappen, with the lead Williams of Valtteri Bottas eighth fastest.

Bottas was returning after missing the Australian GP thanks to a back injury, although he had been warned that he may suffer some pain.

Daniil Kvyat was ninth fastest in the second Red Bull ahead of the lead Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Felipe Massa was 11th fastest, but the Brazilian should have set a quicker time.

On his first flier on his second set of rubber, he ran wide at Turn 11 and took a bite of the gravel, and while he subsequently improved it's likely he would have been several places higher had he not made the error.

Pastor Maldonado was 12th, just ahead of Sauber debutant Raffaele Marciello, who had taken over Felipe Nasr's car.

The returning Fernando Alonso was just behind in 14th place, the McLaren driver lapping 2.761s off the pace.

That put the McLaren ahead of the two Force Indias, with Jenson Button down in 17th, a couple of tenths slower than Alonso.

The Manor team made good on its promise to hit the track early in practice. Will Stevens left the pits in the second minute and team-mate Roberto Merhi completed his first lap after 13 minutes.

Although both managed to complete just a single installation lap during the first half-hour of the session, Stevens returned to the track on a second set of tyres and worked down to a best time of 1m46.686s to take 18th place.

Crucially, this was within 107 per cent of Rosberg's pacesetting time, which is encouraging for Manor's hopes of qualifying.

Merhi was unable to return to the circuit until the final 15 minutes after his first lap, but while he managed to set a lap of 1m47.683s on that brief run, that was just over half a second off the 107 per cent barrier.

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m40.124s - 20
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m40.497s 0.373s 17
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m40.985s 0.861s 13
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m41.543s 1.419s 14
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m41.596s 1.472s 26
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m41.787s 1.663s 15
7 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m41.803s 1.679s 23
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m41.882s 1.758s 23
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m42.055s 1.931s 18
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m42.064s 1.940s 16
11 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m42.103s 1.979s 23
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m42.567s 2.443s 19
13 Raffaele Marciello Sauber/Ferrari 1m42.621s 2.497s 13
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m42.885s 2.761s 20
15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m42.893s 2.769s 13
16 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m43.054s 2.930s 15
17 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m43.100s 2.976s 19
18 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m46.686s 6.562s 8
19 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1m47.683s 7.559s 8
20 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes - - 4


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Malaysian GP: Lewis Hamilton tops practice two after early problem

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