Sebastian Vettel set the quickest time of opening practice at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari made a flying start to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
Vettel and Raikkonen’s times were set on the soft Pirelli tyre, the softest of the three compounds on offer this weekend, with the Italian squad being the only ones to use that tyre during the 90-minute session.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the early part of the session, using the medium compound tyre, but halfway through the session Raikkonen emerged on soft rubber to post a time three quarters of a second clear of the Merecedes. Vettel the posted a 1:23.951 to beat the Finn by 0.138s.
Rosberg, still on the medium tyre, managed claw the deficit back to just under half a second later, while Hamilton ended the session just over the tenth down on the championship leader.
Daniel Ricciardo took fifth place for Red Bull Racing, again on the medium tyre, with the Australian 0.8s down on Hamilton’s best time of the session. New Red Bull Racing recruit Max Verstappen was sixth and on his first outing in the RB12 finished just 0.2s behind three-time grand prix winner Ricciardo.
Verstappen was involved in a swap with Daniil Kvyat and over at Toro Rosso the Russian had a more difficult time settling in as he finished in P12, half a second down on team-mate Carlos Sainz who took P8 just behind Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.
The second Williams of Felipe Massa was ninth quickest despite a spin at Turn 5 while Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten for McLaren.
Elsewhere, Sergio Perez completed just nine laps for Force India after stopping with an oil leak, while Renault also encountered difficulty with the car of test driver Esteban Ocon. The young Frenchman’s first outing for the team this season was marred by a puncture early on and though he re-emerged later on it was brief and he managed just six laps in total.
2016 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.951 22
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:24.089 18
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.454 34
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.611 33
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.416 25
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:25.585 29
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.672 36
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:26.078 19
9 Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.186 32
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:26.243 18
11 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:26.576 30
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:26.583 21
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:26.938 27
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:27.064 9
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.253 27
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:27.258 17
17 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:27.283 18
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:27.392 24
19 Jenson Button McLaren 1:27.610 19
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:28.084 29
21 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:29.052 34
22 Esteban Ocon Renault 6