Nico Rosberg took Mercedes GP to the top of the opening practice session timesheets for this weekend’s European Grand Prix at the Valencia street circuit.

Nico Rosberg Warm and sunny conditions greeted the drivers, who managed to survive the 90-minute session with scarcely an incident of note.

Rosberg hauled himself of the championship-leading McLaren pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with an ‘F-duct’ assisted hot-lap with 15 minutes to go in the session.

Robert Kubica wound up in fourth place on the timing screens, half a second off the pace. Next up in the order was Felipe Massa, who emerged fractionally quicker than a gaggle of cars that comprised Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello.

Many teams arrived at the Valencia circuit with a host of new upgrades to make them more competitive – Ferrari and Renault are running lowered exhausts; Red Bull and Williams are re-trialling their ‘F-ducts’, for example.

The drivers reported some issues with tyre graining and many used parts of the session to explore the limit of adhesion with regular trips into the circuit run-off areas. Fortunately, no driver succeeded in binning their cars into the Armco.

One brief red flag period did occur, however, when Bruno Senna’s left-hand mirror departed company from his HRT, grazing the Brazilian’s helmet and landing on the road, to be collected by Sébastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso. The session was momentarily suspended to allow the Turn 12 section of the circuit to be cleaned for debris.

The HRT team’s first session on its second ‘home’ race was not a happy one, with both Senna and test driver Christian Klien – who is replacing Karun Chandhok this morning – sidelined late in the session with driveshaft and gearbox problems, respectively.

2010 European GP Practice 1 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP 1:41.175 16
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.164 19
3. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.208 21
4. Robert Kubica POL Renault + 0.540 20
5. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 1.007 21
6. Mark Webber AU Red Bull Renault + 1.041 24
7. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 1.100 17
8. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 1.137 18
9. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 1.246 22
10. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 1.288 21
11. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 1.532 23
12. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 1.787 17
13. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 2.135 23
14. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA Force India Mercedes + 2.205 19
15. Pedro de la Rosa ESP Sauber Ferrari + 2.222 21
16. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes + 2.262 18
17. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 2.554 21
18. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 3.008 21
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth + 3.316 21
20. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 4.478 23
21. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 5.948 17
22. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Cosworth + 6.110 18
23. Christian Klien AUT HRT Cosworth + 6.168 14
24. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 6.181 24

[Original image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.