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F1 Japanese GP: Rosberg out front in Suzuka FP1

Nico Rosberg sets the pace for Mercedes in first free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, comfortably ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg has opened up top of the timesheets as the Japanese Grand Prix got underway with first free practice at the iconic Suzuka Circuit.

Coming into Round 17 armed with a 23 point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the standings with five races remaining, Rosberg was comfortably quickest on the soft tyres to stop the clock at 1min 32.431secs.

Two tenths faster than title rival Hamilton as Mercedes put daylight between itself and their rivals, Ferrari followed up more than a second adrift with Sebastian Vettel, who in turn was three tenths up on Kimi Raikkonen in third and fourth respectively.

Arriving in Japan on the back of their spectacular 1-2 finish in Sepang, Red Bull maintained its usual modest start to a race weekend by choosing not to fit the soft tyres, Daniel Ricciardo leading Max Verstappen in fifth and sixth places.

Force India was comfortable inside the top ten in seventh and eighth positions, ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who survived a brush with the barrier with a spin at the Spoon curve and an early finish with a damaged exhaust issue to still be ninth. Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten for Williams.

Elsewhere, Romain Grosjean was another to experience an off by sliding on at Degna 2, the Frenchman complaining of 'brakes that don't brake' on his Haas as he kissed the barrier and ended his session early.

Jolyon Palmer's morning was also brought to an early conclusion courtesy of electrical issues on his Renault, leaving him at the bottom of the timesheets.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
01.10.2016 - Free Practice 3, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Haas VF17
Haas VF17
Haas VF17
Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing
Red Bull R13, car launch, [Credit: Red Bull]
McLaren MCL32 [credit: McLaren Twitter]
Williams Martini Racing FW40
McLaren - Honda MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32 F1 launch, [Credit: McLaren]
McLaren MCL32, McLaren-Honda, [Credit: McLaren]
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H

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