Rosberg seven-tenths up on Hamilton in first practice

2016 Russian Grand Prix first practice

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Nico Rosberg got his Russian Grand Prix weekend off to a strong start by lapping seven-tenths of a second faster than team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg, who took pole position for this race last year, used a set of super-soft tyres to set his quickest time. Hamilton, who had a brief spin during an early run, couldn’t get close to his team mate’s pace during the opening 90 minutes of running.

Ricciardo debuted the Aeroscreen. More pictures
However Hamilton was just one of many drivers to be caught out by the slippery Sochi track, even with relatively warm 30C track temperatures. Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Jolyon Palmer each spun in between turns 15 and 16, while driver after driver went wide onto the forgiving turn two run-off.

Vettel was over a second off Rosberg’s pace but he and Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen set their quickest times on the harder soft compound tyres. The only other driver in the top ten to do so was Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Felipe Massa set the fifth-fastest time despite not registering a lap during the opening 40 minutes due to a car fault.

Daniel Ricciardo, who ran the Aeroscreen cockpit protection structure on his Red Bull at the beginning of the session, split the two Williams drivers with the sixth-fastest time.

Force India had one of their cars in the top ten thanks to Sergio Perez but the second, driven by test driver Alfonso Celis, was over three seconds slower.

Sergey Sirotkin was the only other test driver in action, for Renault. The local star out-paced regular driver Jolyon Palmer by eight-tenths of a second.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’38.127 32
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’38.849 0.722 31
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’39.175 1.048 19
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’39.332 1.205 18
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’39.365 1.238 14
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’39.650 1.523 24
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’39.802 1.675 34
8 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’40.218 2.091 26
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’40.287 2.160 22
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.654 2.527 21
11 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’40.663 2.536 19
12 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’40.771 2.644 18
13 46 Sergey Sirotkin Renault 1’40.898 2.771 24
14 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.085 2.958 21
15 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’41.134 3.007 22
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1’41.238 3.111 18
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’41.385 3.258 20
18 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’41.671 3.544 25
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.962 3.835 22
20 94 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1’42.483 4.356 21
21 88 Rio Haryanto Manor-Mercedes 1’42.687 4.560 8
22 34 Alfonso Celis Force India-Mercedes 1’43.432 5.305 23

First practice visual gaps

Nico Rosberg – 1’38.127

+0.722 Lewis Hamilton – 1’38.849

+1.048 Sebastian Vettel – 1’39.175

+1.205 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’39.332

+1.238 Felipe Massa – 1’39.365

+1.523 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’39.650

+1.675 Valtteri Bottas – 1’39.802

+2.091 Daniil Kvyat – 1’40.218

+2.160 Sergio Perez – 1’40.287

+2.527 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’40.654

+2.536 Jenson Button – 1’40.663

+2.644 Fernando Alonso – 1’40.771

+2.771 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’40.898

+2.958 Felipe Nasr – 1’41.085

+3.007 Max Verstappen – 1’41.134

+3.111 Esteban Gutierrez – 1’41.238

+3.258 Romain Grosjean – 1’41.385

+3.544 Jolyon Palmer – 1’41.671

+3.835 Marcus Ericsson – 1’41.962

+4.356 Pascal Wehrlein – 1’42.483

+4.560 Rio Haryanto – 1’42.687

+5.305 Alfonso Celis – 1’43.432

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Rosberg seven-tenths up on Hamilton in first practice”

  1. Looks like it’s going to be another scintillating race in the “Not a Mercedes” Class

  2. Now, you can see the points of putting Sirotkin into the K-Mag’s seat!

    1. I could see the point of putting him in Palmers seat before too soon Park! I liked to see him doing a solid job, good to have some hopes of him being a solid title contender in GP2 this year.

      1. @bascb For Russian news headlines, it is better to put him in KMag seat as he has more chance to beat the ‘regular’ driver and boosting his popularity. Could they go as far as be sure Sirotkin is faster than Palmer during testing to have more media coverage ?

        1. I think its perfectly possibly that is part of the reason why Sirotkin was ahead @jeanrien

  3. Be nice if next to lap times we could see what compound tyres were used…

    1. I asked Pirelli for exactly this information pre-season but they say they’re not able to supply it. However the text does refer to what the top ten drivers used.

  4. Wow, Sirotkin embarrassing Palmer. Alfonso Celis looks like he’s ready to move from Briggs & Stratton 4-stroke up to Yamaha KT-100

    1. Nicholas Port (@)
      29th April 2016, 21:09

      Definitely COTD

  5. ColdFly F1 (@)
    29th April 2016, 10:02

    Most noteworthy to me is how good the image at the top of this article is, where you can still see the driver.

    1. +1
      I liked Bianchi a lot and I was hurt when we lost him, But I doubt that wither the Thong or the screen would have saved him in that Suzuka crash as the whole airbox was gone.
      I doubt if Massa had a halo thing in Budapest 2009, he would have missed Barrichello’s spring, It could have been any angle and it could be any angle. The screen would have protected him maybe but how can anyone say.

      I think this whole idea is rubbish.. canopy or skeleton or anything. make the Airbox stronger, tighten the wheel tethering rules, and innovate the rear assembly like Mercedes have done. This will help much more

  6. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    29th April 2016, 10:03

    Wow, Palmer is struggling – 0.9 slower than a guy that has never driven the car before. Sirotkin is a decent driver, but that is a bit concerning for Jolyon, he’s been nowhere since Melbourne.

  7. Gap looks a little exaggerated because Ferrari didn’t set a competitive time on the Super softs. Nonetheless, I would be shocked if it’s anything other than a processional front row lockout for Mercedes.

    Williams finally look as quick as the Bulls this race weekend. I think we could get an interesting battle for P5 during the race. Force India looks capable of joining the party as well.

    Sirotkin did quite a good job outpacing Palmer in his first outing. It might be a glory run for the fans, but still a pretty solid job.

    Mclaren looking like they’re consolidating their position in the heart of the midfield. It’s commendable how they are consistently 2.5 seconds off the leader’s pace since the mid point of last season.

    Alfonso Celis is a star in the making. Over 3 seconds off his teammate’s pace and a second down on the legendary Haryanto.

  8. Emil Krejberg
    29th April 2016, 10:29

    I have little understanding for Renaults decision to put Sirotkin in Magnussens car insteed of Palmers. Palmer has not performed since Australian and really seems to fight the car. Magnussen on the other hand didn’t really get any dry weather training in China so he needs some data. Is it possible to sack Palmer already and go for Magnussen and Sirotkin? – I know it’s just one practice session but to be beaten by a guy who has never driven the car is not quite good enough…

    1. To check how good Sirotkin and Palmer are?

  9. Sirotkin time a glory run in light car for sake of motherland crowd. Renault just got carried too away trying to make him look good which is why they had rookie Palmer as opposed to K-Mag in sister car.

    1. He has been much quicker since their second run.

  10. Speed Week had rumours of Palmer being replaced by Ocon in the not too distant future. Without knowing any specifics of fuel loads and such I doubt this will help his cause.

    1. Would love to see Ocon in an F1 car. Have always been pretty indifferent about Palmer. Dropping him this quickly would be brutal. He did have a shocker in China, though. The pressure is on.

      1. @keithcollantine Whatever he does in the coming races I believe Ocon is the better prospect. Palmer was hired by a struggling Lotus and luckily found his way into Renault as they probably had their hands full paying off Maldonado. I don’t think Palmer will be in F1 next season.

      2. I have always been (very) indifferent of Palmer, and Ocon is as good as it gets, but indeed it would be absolutely brutal. And can Renault survive without Palmer’s sponsorship/money? Maybe Mercedes will pay for Ocon?

  11. And what about Nasr? Outpaced Ericsson soundly after getting the new chassis , but can someone tell me if their best times were set on the same compound? Nevertheless, it looks he was right about his chassis, it’s promising to see this performance

    1. If the times are on the same compound (missed FP1 so no idea) the that goes some way to vindicating what Nasr has been saying. Will have to see how the rest of the weekend unfolds

  12. This Celis guy should be nowhere near an F1 car…

    1. Gives me hope that if I ever win the lottery or sell my house and decide to live on the streets I could one day be in an F1 session.

  13. Celis was actually not terrible in testing. Two FP1s in and now he’s struggling to clear the Haryanto Line. I’ve been saying he’s a much better driver than he was in late 2013, but he just jumped right in the Renault and went almost a second faster than the incumbent Jolyon Palmer.

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