Nico Rosberg leads the way in Australia practice day

Nico Rosberg led Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the opening days running at the Australian Grand Prix. 

Rosberg’s time in the second session of 1:27.697s was exactly one tenth of a second faster than the 2014 world champion Hamilton. Whilst it was all smiles down at Mercedes, the same cannot be said for McLaren. Kevin Magnussen crashed his McLaren Honda in the early stages of the session; the Dane only managed seven laps in the first session earlier in the day. Jenson Button fared better in the afternoon, but could only put together six laps in the morning, managing twenty one in the afternoon. Whilst this is a step forward for McLaren they still found themselves at the rear of the field and are in an uphill battle to make it out of Q1.

Behind the Mercedes, Ferrari took the title for the best of the rest. Sebastian Vettel on his Ferrari debut has thus far outpaced his new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Although they look strong, Ferrari have a big fight on their hands with Williams and Red Bull seemingly not far behind the prancing horse. Williams hit reliability problems with Felipe Massa, the team finding a water leak on the Brazilian’s car at the end of FP1, resulting in Massa missing out on running in the afternoon. Much like Massa, Ricciardo also hit issues. The Aussie was plagued with engine issues with the RB11 which ultimately resulted in an engine change.

Despite running into battery problems late in the day with Max Verstappen’s car, all in all Toro Rosso have plenty to be happy about following the day’s practice sessions. World Series by Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz managed seventh place in the afternoon. Verstappen managed a time good enough for fourteenth place in the afternoon which raised to thirty-seven laps for the 17-year-old.

It was not the worst of days for Lotus with both drivers managing to make it into the top ten. Both drivers had off track excursions with Romain Grosjean recovering from a hydraulic leak in the morning that sidelined the Frenchman early in the morning session. Pastor Maldonado ventured off the circuit on the exit of Turn Fifteen and Grosjean at Turn Three early on in the second session of the day.

It was a tough day at Force India with the lack of winter testing that the team had had with the VJM 08 biting them back, and hard. Nico Hulkenberg could only manage tenth place in the morning, his best effort was over two and a half seconds slower than pacesetter Rosberg. Although the Force India did not show a great deal of pace, the reliability of the car could be its saving grace.

Chaos is really the word that springs to mind when you think about the day that Sauber has had. The driver merry go round has finally stopped with Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr finally hitting the track in the afternoon following the legal proceedings following Giedo van der Garde’s contract. The Dutchman believed he should be in the car and a court did agree. The team appealed that decision but at the time lost. Van der Garde appeared in Ericsson’s overalls, lost his case and gave up on proceedings. Sauber’s day, just when it seemed couldn’t get any worse, did with Ericsson’s rear suspension broke. Nasr finished eleventh on his full F1 debut.

After a day’s running down under, it is clear that Mercedes are in the lead by quite the margin, but behind the leaders the pack are close. Which Mercedes will walk away with the win this weekend isn’t yet clear, or could it be a Ferrari on the top step of the podium?

1Nico RosbergMercedes1:27.697s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.100
3Sebastian VettelFerrari+0.715
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari+1.145
5Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes+1.568
6Daniil KvyatRed Bull Racing+2.319
7Carlos Sainz Jr.Toro Rosso+2.374
8Pastor MaldonadoLotus Mercedes+2.407
9Romain GrosjeanLotus Mercedes+2.508
10Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes+2.776
11Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari+3.058
12Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes+3.283
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda+3.690
14Max VerstappenToro Rosso+3.698
15Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari+4.606
16Kevin MagnussenMcLaren Honda+5.592