Formula 1

Nico Rosberg leads opening German Grand Prix practice

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Nico Rosberg got his home Grand Prix weekend off to the perfect start after pipping Lewis Hamilton to lead the opening practice session.

The German posted a 1:19.131 to lead his team-mate by just six hundredths of a second with Fernando Alonso third for Ferrari.

FRIC suspension

As expected, all the talk heading into the weekend was about the banning of the FRIC suspension, however, any potential controversy seems to have been averted with all teams taking the radical system off their cars.

This did seem to have some impact as drivers adapted their braking style, particularly at some of the harder braking zones into the Spitzkehre hairpin and into the Mercedes-Benz section.

However, most of the mistakes can likely be put down to the ‘green’ track as well as hot temperatures which can make the tarmac a little slipperier than usual.

Mercedes authority

Mercedes were quick to stamp their authority at the top of the standings but based on the times, particularly on the longer run at the end of the session, Red Bull could challenge the Mercedes on race pace. The proper race simulation in the afternoon will give more clues.

For Alonso, Hockenheim remains a favourite circuit in terms of success. The Spaniard has won the last two races at this track and despite a more troublesome Ferrari this year, again looks like he will be a major player for the role of ‘best of the rest’.

Despite an initial scare on her installation lap, Susie Wolff enjoyed a much more successful practice outing than she did at Silverstone two weeks ago.

The Scot also impressed posting a 1:20.769 and was only two tenths slower than Felipe Massa. The morning was a little disappointing from a Williams perspective based on recent results, with Massa and Wolff only 11th and 15th respectively.

McLaren/Red Bull

At McLaren, the better result at Silverstone was repeated at Hockenheim as Jenson Button split the two Red Bulls in fifth with Kevin Magnussen seventh.

Speaking of the Red Bulls, it was Daniel Ricciardo who was quicker than Sebastian Vettel by four tenths over a single lap as the Australian was fourth with the German sixth.

Sauber enjoyed a better session too with Adrian Sutil making the top 10 in tenth as reserve Giedo van der Garde stood in for Esteban Gutierrez and came 16th despite only being two tenths slower.

Problems continue at Lotus, however, as Romain Grosjean had to deal with a DRS failure under braking for the Ostkurve, leaving him with little downforce. He was still quicker than Pastor Maldonado as the two E21s found themselves only quicker than the Marussias and the Caterhams.

And of the slower teams, it was Kamui Kobayashi who led for Caterham ahead of Jules Bianchi with Marcus Ericsson also ahead of Max Chilton as the Leafield team enjoyed a rare advantage over their rivals.

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