Full FP1 times HERE
Nico Robserg was fastest during FP1 for the Japanese Grand Prix as Max Verstappen became the youngest driver to take part in a grand prix weekend.
The two Mercedes drivers were again at the head of the field, with Rosberg beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.151s. And Ferrari also started Friday strongly with Fernando Alonso setting the third fastest time, albeit over half a second slower than Rosberg.
Verstappen set a new record as he took to the track at the age of 17 and enjoyed a largely encouraging session, finishing 12th and just 0.4s slower than Daniil Kvyat in the sister Toro Rosso. However, Verstappen's running was ended prematurely by an engine issue which caused him to stop at the Esses in the final ten minutes with smoke coming from the back of his car.
Behind the top three, Valtteri Bottas was fourth quickest for Williams – 1.1s slower than Rosberg – ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and Kevin Magnussen in sixth. Daniel Ricciardo in seventh was over two seconds off the pace, while Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Kvyat rounded out the top ten.
There were a number of off-track excursions on the relatively narrow circuit, with Esteban Gutierrez the closest to come to grief as he ran wide at Degner One but managed to return to the track before Degner Two.
Roberto Merhi had an alarming moment during his second appearance for Caterham as he had a spin at Spoon 20 minutes in to the session, losing control of his car when he rejoined the track having run wide. Bottas was then approaching at speed and locked up as he tried to duck inside the Caterham, eventually taking avoiding action by also going wide.
Force India appeared to be limiting its running as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez completed just nine and ten laps respectively, while Marussia similarly managed just 25 laps as a team. However, that running was impacted by a late driver change as Max Chilton was recalled for FP1 having been set to hand over to Will Stevens. Marussia team principal John Booth confirmed to Crash.net
that the switch had been due to Stevens' paperwork not arriving in time.