FASTEST IN SOCHI: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg clocked the fastest time during the first practice ahead of the 2014 Russian GP at the brand new Sochi Autodrom circuit. Image: AP/ Luca Bruno
SOCHI, Russi - Nico Rosberg wrote himself into the history books on Friday as the first Formula 1 driver to set a timed lap at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix and first to top the practice timesheets.
The Mercedes driver lapped the Sochi circuit, which snakes past some of the landmark venues used at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in a best time of 1min42.311 seconds on a bright morning in the Black Sea resort.
The German's championship-leading team mate Lewis Hamilton, who has a 10-point advantage after winning the previous three races, was second-fastest in 1min42.376 as Mercedes continued to dominate.
The team is expected to wrap up the Constructors' championship on Sunday with three races to spare, having won 12 of the 15 races so far with eight 1-2 finishes.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was the first driver out of the pits when the green light came on, ahead of Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren's Jenson Button was the early pace-setter as drivers got to grips with a layout compared to the former Valencia street circuit and Singapore, with the 2009 champion ending the morning third-fastest.
Alonso was fourth, Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen fifth.
The only Russian regular, Toro Rosso's 20-year-old rookie Daniil Kvyat, was a respectable seventh and joined in the first session by 19-year-old compatriot Sergey Sirotkin, making his debut at a race weekend in the Sauber usually driven by Esteban Gutierrez.
Williams had a disrupted session when overheating a tyre blanket damaged a set of Valtteri Bottas's tyres, limiting his running.
All drivers took to the track with stickers of support for Jules Bianchi, Marussia's French driver who was severely injured in a crash in Japan the previous Sunday and remains in a critical condition.
Marussia announced before the session that it would have only one car running this weekend, with one for Bianchi assembled but parked in the team garage as a mark of respect.
Chilton ended the session with the slowest time.
Chilton said before the session: "I don't know how to put into words how truly devastated I am by what has happened to Jules. It is going to be a very emotional weekend for the whole team, but we will try to get through it and keep praying for Jules."
2014 Russian GP First practice:
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min42.311
2 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min42.376
3 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min42.507
4 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min42.720
5 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 1min43.026
6 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 1min43.129
7 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min43.164
8 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min43.212
9 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min43.327
10 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min43.542
11 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min43.741
12 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - Renault 1min43.821
13 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1min43.976
14 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull - Renault 1min44.506
15 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari 1min44.625
16 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Renault 1min44.876
17 Sergey Sirotkin (Russia) Sauber - Ferrari 1min45.032
18 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault 1min45.190
19 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Caterham - Renault 1min46.782
20 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham - Renault 1min46.922
21 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari 1min47.284
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