for the full Japanese Grand Prix FP1 result
Nico Hulkenberg has topped the timesheets in a disrupted first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix after a diesel spillage at the Sochi Autdrom prior to the session prompted a lengthy clean-up operation and left treacherous conditions when drivers eventually made it on track.
A 'significant diesel spillage' from a course vehicle as it was traversing turns seven and eight forced a clean-up operation that firstly involved attempting to soak it up with dust, before pressure water jets were employed to clear the fuel.
Prompting a delay of 30mins – without an extension to the 90min session -, even when drivers did venture onto circuit, it was initially only for a handful of laps on intermediate rubber in an effort to disperse the standing water at the turns.
However, though track activity on slick tyres would increase towards the end of the session as the circuit dried again, the remnants of the diesel spill – along with the already slippery nature of the little used track - was still causing headaches for the drivers, with several running off track, while Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton all endured wild spins as they attempted to get up to speed.
In the end it was Hulkenberg that would emerge on top of the timesheets – albeit more than two seconds than the equivalent FP1 session from last year -, the Force India driver emerging best in the flurry of late fast laps as the track continued to evolve to the chequered flag.
Countrymen Nico Rosberg and Vettel completed all-German top three, while Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out an unusual top five.
Carlos Sainz, championship leader Hamilton – who suffered his spin in the final corner complex -, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top ten, though it remains to be seen what will have been learned from the farcical session.
Furthermore, with rain forecast to be its way for FP2, teams and drivers a potential headache heading into the remainder of the weekend.