Spanish Grand Prix FP1: Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg pipped Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to top spot in the first Formula 1 free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix

Spanish Grand Prix FP1: Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton

The German ended up at the top of the timesheets, just seven-hundredths of a second faster than Hamilton, with Mercedes almost a second clear of the rest of the field.

Rosberg set the pace during the first half-an-hour, when all drivers have the use of a set of hard-compound Pirelli tyres that they cannot use once the first 30 minutes have finished.

He set a best time of 1m27.333s during this period as he and Hamilton traded fastest times on rubber enduring enough to produce good pace for multiple laps.

That was almost two-tenths faster than Hamllton could manage, with Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who did briefly go fastest, ending up third and 0.8s down.

Once onto their new sets of hard Pirellis, Hamilton drew first blood, outpacing Rosberg by 45-thousandths of a second on their first flying laps, largely thanks to stunning pace in the first sector.

But with Hamilton's second flier looking set to improve his advantage, he had a slow final sector, meaning that his first flying lap was to remain his fastest of the morning.

Rosberg then improved, finding almost a tenth of a second in the final sector compared to his first lap, to establish a 0.070s margin in first place.

Ferrari was best of the rest, with Vettel and Raikkonen separated by just 26-thousandths, but they were a second slower than Rosberg.

Scuderia Toro Rosso pairing Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen ran strongly throughout the session to seal fifth and sixth place, with the lead Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat - sporting a new nose - in seventh, just under two seconds off the pace.

It was another difficult session for Red Bull, with Kvyat's team-mate Daniel Ricciardo not able to complete any proper running until the final 10 minutes of the session.

The Australian reported a problem when he applied full throttle on his outlap, and while he soon returned to the track for another attempt, he then disappeared into the garage for much of the session before restarting late on to go ninth fastest.

As usual, Williams had a relatively low-profile Friday practice session on heavy fuel, with Felipe Massa eighth and development driver Susie Wolff, making her first FP1 appearance since last July's German GP weekend, 14th and 0.877s off the Brazilian.

Sauber driver Felipe Nasr banged in a lap good enough for 10th, 2.312s off the pace, with 12 minutes remaining, which relegated Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg to 11th.

Reserve driver Raffaele Marciello backed up team-mate Nasr in 12th place on his second FP1 appearance, with another backup driver, Jolyon Palmer, 13th in the faster of the Lotus-Mercedes.

McLaren-Honda had a quiet start to the weekend with its upgraded MP4-30, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button setting near-identical pace in 15th and 16th places.

At one stage, Button reported that "the balance is completely wrong" over the radio with the front wing he was trying, while Alonso had a late spin at Turn 12.

Sergio Perez, who had a trip through the gravel exiting Turn 3 after 26 minutes, was 17th in the second Force India.

Pastor Maldonado was only able to complete seven laps thanks to what the team described as a "minor gearbox issue", meaning his fastest time was his run on the first set of tyres, putting him down in 18th place and ahead only of the two Manor-run Marussias of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

FP1 TIMES:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.828s - 28
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.898s 0.070s 27
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m27.806s 0.978s 21
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m27.832s 1.004s 16
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m28.132s 1.304s 27
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m28.529s 1.701s 23
7 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m28.785s 1.957s 7
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m28.831s 2.003s 21
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m29.075s 2.247s 9
10 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m29.140s 2.312s 14
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m29.409s 2.581s 20
12 Raffaele Marciello Sauber/Ferrari 1m29.630s 2.802s 15
13 Jolyon Palmer Lotus/Mercedes 1m29.676s 2.848s 21
14 Susie Wolff Williams/Mercedes 1m29.708s 2.880s 22
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m29.813s 2.985s 22
16 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m29.817s 2.989s 22
17 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m30.096s 3.268s 19
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m30.110s 3.282s 7
19 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m32.471s 5.643s 22
20 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1m32.647s 5.819s 20


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