Austrian GP: Nico top after practice 1

Sport360 staff 14:58 19/06/2015
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Rosberg was fastest on the early morning practice.

Nico Rosberg outpaced his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to clock the fastest time in the morning’s opening free practice session for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

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The 29-year-old German, who was victorious in last year’s race to inspire a run of strong mid-season form, clocked a best time of 1min 10.401sec. He is currently second in the drivers’ standings, 17 points behind Hamilton.

Defending champion Hamilton was second, 0.308sec adrift of Rosberg’s best lap at the Red Bull Ring track in foothills of the Styrian Alps.

Both men had trouble-free mornings as they began preparations for an event that is a severe test for engines and traction.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was third fastest ahead of compatriot Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Brazilian Felipe Nasr of Sauber.

Russian Daniil Kvyat was sixth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the pair both running with new engines – their fifth of the season – which will mean they take a 10-place grid penalty for the race.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was eighth for Toro Rosso ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India and Spaniard Carlos Sainz in the second Toro Rosso.

Massa was involved in a near-miss in the pit lane when he had to brake sharply as he exited the Williams pits to avoid hitting Ferrari team chief Maurizio Arrivabene, as he crossed the road. A brief exchange of rueful grins was followed later by a smiling chat.

Four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel was hampered by gearbox problems and wound up 20th and last in his Ferrari while the two McLaren Hondas of Briton Jenson Button and Spaniard Fernando Alonso were 16th and 17th, Alonso having struggled to overcome ‘system problems’ on his heavily revised car.

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