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Formula 1 World Championship leader Nico Rosberg has ended the first day of free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix atop the timesheets, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver hit the front of the field at the mid-way point with a 1min 23.922secs lap, Rosberg making the most of getting a clear lap compared with his main rivals to end the day a comfortable two tenths up on Raikkonen.

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Indeed, while the Finn was only two tenths adrift of the top spot, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the sister Mercedes and Ferrari cars were a sizeable seven tenths and one second behind after suffering compromised soft tyre laps.

Though much of the attention in the Red Bull stable is focused on Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat this weekend, it was Carlos Sainz that emerged as the quickest of the four drivers in the Toro Rosso, the local favourite ending up fifth fastest, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

On a strong day for the local contingent, Fernando Alonso was seventh quickest for McLaren-Honda, ahead of Max Verstappen, while Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg completed a positive first day for the revised Force India VJM09, both drivers making it into the top ten.

Elsewhere, Jenson Button suffered technical issues on his McLaren-Honda MP4-31 but made it back out onto track in the closing stages, while Jolyon Palmer brought out an early red flag when he suffered a high-speed blowout on the home straight, the second puncture for his Renault today after Esteban Ocon suffered his own delamination in FP1.

At the bottom of the timesheets, Esteban Gutierrez managed just nine laps in the Haas after encountering electronics issues. His team-mate Romain Grosjean still had complaints about the handling and performance of his car but ended the day 13th fastest as damage limitation.

Daniil Kvyat's first day back in Toro Rosso saw him slowly adapt to the Ferrari-powered machine in 15th just behind Kevin Magnussen, while Williams' Felipe Massa was somewhat off the pace down in 16th.