FASTEST AT BARCELONA: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg narrowly beat Lewis Hamilton to set the fastest time during first practice for the 2015 Spanish GP. Image: AP / Luca Bruno
BARCELONA, Spain - Nico Rosberg drew first blood on Friday (May 8) in his duel with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg narrowly beat Hamilton to set the fastest time during the first practice session for the 2015 Spanish GP.
Hamilton, who leads the 2015 title race by 27 points after winning three of the opening four races of the season, was second, only 0.070 seconds off the pace, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel a further nine-tenths of behind.
Rosberg's advantage was wafer-thin and Hamilton sustained only the merest of scratches as he worked through his technical programme in preparation for Sunday's (May 10) race.
FEELING THE HEAT IN BARCELONA
Vettel's team mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth-fastest.
On a warm, sunny day at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, about 20km north-west of the city, Rosberg showed he was intent on rekindling his faltering challenge to his team mate.
Ferrari were unable to close the performance gap despite a raft of upgrades to their car following the 2015 Bahrain GP.
Spain's new local hero Carlos Sainz, son of the former world rally champion, delighted his followers in the paltry crowd by placing fifth for Toro Rosso ahead of his teenage team mate Max Verstappen.
Daniil Kvyat was seventh for Red Bull ahead of Williams' Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo, who was delayed by problems again, in the second Red Bull and Sauber's Felipe Nasr.
The two Toro Rosso men once again proved their potential and mettle by out-performing their counterparts at senior sibling team Red Bull on a morning of few surprises and little drama.
ROOKIES ON THE GRID
Both the Lotus and McLaren-Honda teams continued their struggles in a woeful start to the season with two-time champion Fernando Alonso and his McLaren team mate Briton Jenson Button winding up in 15th and 16th.
Lotus' Jolyon Palmer was 13th and Pastor Maldonado 18th, another man to spend much of the session waiting in his team's garage.
2015 Spanish GP results:
1 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 1min26.828
2 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1min26.898
3 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari 1min27.806
4 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari 1min27.832
5 Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Toro Rosso 1min28.132
6 Max Verstappen (NED) Toro Rosso 1min28.529
7 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull 1min28.785
8 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams 1min28.831
9 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull 1min29.075
10 Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber AG 1min29.140
11 Nico Hlkenberg (GER) Force India 1min29.409
12 Raffaele Marciello (ITA) Sauber AG 1min29.630
13 Jolyon Palmer (ENG) Lotus 1min29.676
14 Susie Wolff (GBR) Williams 1min29.708
15 Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren 1min29.813
16 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren 1min29.817
17 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India 1min30.096
18 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus 1min30.110
19 Will Stevens (GBR) Marussia 1min32.471
20 Roberto Merhi (ESP) Marussia 1min32.647
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 series.