Mercedes’ Nico Roberg topped this timesheets at this morning’s first practice session, with teammate Lewis Hamilton 0.5s behind, as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen came home in 3rd.
There was a dramatic start to the session, as barely five minutes in, Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was forced to abandon, as his car was engulfed in flames. Returning to the pits following an installation lap, the Dane’s car billowing smoke.
Then, the car began to spew fluid from the fuel tank behind the airbox, which caught alight, surrounding the car in flames. Magnussen quickly leapt out, whilst the mechanics worked quickly to extinguish it, and drain the fuel tank as fast as possible. However, this brought out the red flags for around 15 minutes as the car was extinguished and the extinguishant removed from the pit lane.
“We expected it to be hot in Sepang but maybe not as hot as that,” Magnussen reported afterwards.
“My crew were great dealing with the fire and getting the car back into action for the afternoon.
“From my perspective, I heard the call on the radio to jump out and I didn’t need to be told twice! In the afternoon we were able to get some laps in so the day wasn’t a write-off.
“There’s a bit too much entry oversteer with the initial set-up but we know where we want to improve.”
A good finish from McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who finished the session in fifth place, showing the improvement of McLaren this season. However the Spaniard will start Sunday’s race at the rear of the grid, following a 30-place penalty after fitting an upgraded Honda engine to his car.
Mercedes’ one-two finish at the end of the session was their tenth in the last 11 FP1 sessions, even though both cars ran off as Rosberg and Hamilton tested the limits of the track.
As they are still searching for the first win of the 2017 season, both Ferrari’s are running with new floors on their cars, and are expected to trial a new rear wing on Saturday.
This afternoon it was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who stole the top of the timesheets from teammate Nico Rosberg, as the German finished 0.233s behind.
As the track reached a boiling 54 degrees Celsius, it was Ferrari who challenged Mercedes the most again, with Sebastian Vettel finishing third, and Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
The initial high temperatures of the circuit caused a lot of problems with oversteer, however conditions improved as more rubber was put down as the session went along.
Raikkonen reported early problems, stating there was “something was not correct with the car,” and returned to the pits where the problem was seemingly resolved.
Maintaining his strong form this weekend, McLaren’s Fernando went fifth fastest yet again, powered by a fresh upgraded engine.
Despite his car catching fire in the early stages of FP1, Renault’s Kevin Magnussen managed to go out this session, managing 19 laps, including a simulation of qualifying on soft tyres, finishing the session in 19th place.
Jenson Button celebrates 300th Grand Prix
Jenson Button is celebrating his 300th Grand Prix this weekend, and to celebrate this, McLaren constructed him a pub, where he celebrated with several other drivers with drinks and a game of darts.