Rosberg heads Mercedes 1-2 in opening session

12/04/2013
NEWS STORY

Ahead of today's opening practice session the air temperature is 19 degrees C, while the track temperature is 26 degrees. Unusually here, it is bright and sunny with none of the usual smog..

Tyre options this weekend are Medium (prime) and Soft (option). There is one DRS zones, on the long back straight leading to T14.

Other than the on-going situation at Red Bull, where Sebastian Vettel is defiant in terms of what happened in Malaysia, interest yesterday centred on Lewis Hamilton who was laid low by an allergy. We are happy to report that today he is feeling much better and will be in action.

For the first time this year we have a test/reserve driver in action, Ma Qing Hua tasking over Charles Pic's car for this session.

The lights go green and Ricciardo leads the way, followed by Ma, Vergne, Bianchi, Gutierrez, Grosjean and di Resta. Within a couple of minutes everyone bar Hamilton has been out for an installation lap.

Earlier this week Jonathan Neale said that his drivers would be "very busy" today. Well, as Hamilton finally heads down the pitlane, the pattern appears to be following previous FP1s this year… with precious little happening.

Fifteen minutes into the session Vergne is the first driver out for a second run, the Italian team hoping that the overheating exhaust problem, which has particularly affected Ricciardo, has been resolved. That said, mechanics are working furiously at the back of the Australian's car.

As Hulkenberg heads down the pitlane the cameras pick up Hamilton who is sitting at the back of his garage wearing his helmet. His body language suggests he is still not feeling 100%.

At twenty-eight minutes Hamilton is back on track along with Ma and Gutierrez.

Gutierrez posts the first time of the weekend, the Sauber driver crossing the line at 1:43.097. Elsewhere, Button heads down the pitlane.

Button posts 41.798 as McLaren's "busy day" finally gets underway. Moments later Gutierrez posts 41.319.

Talking of a "busy day" at McLaren, Gary Paffett tweets that (at 3.30 am) he has just arrived at the MTC in Woking for some "support work in the simulator".

As more drivers take to the track, Ma goes fourth, behind Bottas (47.432) with a 48.800.

Hoping to have put its wheelnut issue behind it, Force India's Di Resta goes quickest, the Scot crossing the line at 40.555. Maldonado subsequently eclipses the Scot, as do Bottas and Button (38.262).

Di Resta improves to second (38.961) and teammate Sutil to third (39.096), but, other than Button, no sign of the big guns.

That said… with 45:45 remaining, Raikkonen, Massa and Vettel head down the pitlane.

Having locked up going into T14, Raikkonen can only manage third (38.948), having been quickest in S1. Moments later Sutil goes quickest overall with a 38.125.

Massa goes second (38.179) and Vettel sixth (39.093) as Raikkonen spins at T9. Having kept the engine running, after spending a few moments stranded in the middle of the track and facing the wrong way he is able to continue.

Webber goes third (38.204) and Alonso fifth (38.354) as Rob Smedley advises Massa that he can see slight graining on the TV screen.

As Grosjean and the Mercedes duo finally come out to play, Vettel improves to third (38.190).

On his first flying lap, 2012 winner, Rosberg, goes quickest with a 37.872. Elsewhere, Webber goes quickest in S2 finally crossing the line at 37.658 to go top. Alonso's 37.872 puts the Spaniard second. Hamilton runs wide at T14.

As Rosberg goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 36.904, teammate Hamilton goes second (37.367) having posted PBs in all three sectors. The Mercedes duo now head the Red Bull duo and the Ferraris. Sutil and Button mess up the symmetry ahead of the Lotus duo.

TV cameras pick up a delivery of large boxes at the back of the Red Bull garage, the Austrian team clearly upping the ante with updates.

The Mercedes duo both improve, Rosberg to 36.717 and Hamilton 37.171.

Force India reveals that it is to try a new floor - already fitted to Sutil's car - to teammate di Resta's.

Gutierrez takes a long trip through the kitty litter at T2. The Mexican is quickest through the speedtrap, ahead of Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen and Grosjean.

Heading into the final fifteen minutes, most driver appear to be switching to longer runs on heavy fuel, consequently no significant improvements.

As the clock counts down, all but the Ferraris, Bottas, Gutierrez, Van der Garde and Ma are on track.

Outside the Red Bull garage mechanics are having problems fitting a new front wing to Vettel's car. Clearly frustrated, the German leaves a long trail of black rubber as he finally heads back down the pitlane.

Back on track sans new floor, di Resta improves to tenth with a 38.561. Teammate Sutil is currently eighth (38.125).

At Lotus, Grosjean gets a new nose while Gutierrez takes to the escape road at T6 and Sutil has a massive lock-up at T14.

The session ends with 2012 winner Nico Rosberg leading the way, ahead of Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Button, Massa, Sutil, Grosjean and di Resta.

Raikkonen is eleventh, ahead of Verne, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Perez, Bottas, Gutierrez, Bianchi, Chilton, Van der Garde and Ma.

Late drama sees Perez repeat Hamilton's mistake of a few years ago, the Mexican carrying too much speed entering the pitlane and clouting the barrier.

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

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Published: 12/04/2013
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