Lewis Hamilton has laid down the first benchmark as practice for this weekend’s Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix got underway at the Sepang International Circuit.

In contrast to opening practice in Melbourne a fortnight ago – where he ground to a halt on his out-lap – Hamilton’s Mercedes ran trouble-free in the opening practice session. He clocked a time of 1:40.691 to edge out Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen by 0.152 seconds.

With track temperature already above 40ºC as the track opened at 10:00am local time, the teams took to the circuit to take advantage of the additional set of Pirelli Hard compound tyres on offer in the first half-hour of the 90-minute session.

Maldonado's power unit appeared to fail

Maldonado’s power unit appeared to fail

Some, however, weren’t quite blessed with the luck of being able to gain valuable track mileage. The curse at Lotus continued, with the little-run E22s of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean once again showcasing their unreliability. Grosjean spluttered to a halt at the exit of Turn 9, while Maldonado’s session came to a smoky session at the entrance of pit lane after an unspecified failure under the engine cover of his car.

Sergio Pérez and Kamui Kobayashi also had disrupted sessions in their respective Force India and Caterham challengers.

Up at the front of the field, Fernando Alonso set the early pace, before times began to be whittled down: first his teammate Räikkönen displaced him from top spot, and then Hamilton took the honours with a 1:40.723, lowering the benchmark by a further three-hundredths of a second.

Showing the Mercedes’ pace was Australian Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg, who edged out the McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. The MP4-29s were sporting one-off sponsor stickers from Esso (a partner of long-time sponsor Mobil), as well as a new nose design that has done away with the original ‘Trident’ configuration used in the pre-season and in Australia.

McLaren didn’t have it all their own way, however, with Magnussen’s running shortened after his car suffered a Mercedes power unit cut-out with about thirty minutes’ running left.

Jean-Éric Vergne took his Toro Rosso into the sixth-fastest time, finishing one-tenth quicker than reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, who clocked just nine laps in his Red Bull RB10 in the session.

Even Alonso had a spin!

Even Alonso had a spin!

Nico Hülkenberg was eighth-fastest in his Force India, while the Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten, with Alonso being shuffled all the way down to eleventh.

The hot ambient conditions and slippery track surface conspired to ensure the media centre was given plenty of replays of opposite lock, lurid slides and a surprising number of embarrassing spins: Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Adrian Sutil and Marcus Ericsson all had rotations during the session.

Free Practice 2 gets underway at 2:00pm local time (GMT +8).

2014 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Results:

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:40.691 19
2. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:40.843 + 0.152 20
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:41.028 + 0.337 19
4. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:41.111 + 0.420 20
5. Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:41.274 + 0.583 18
6. Jean-Éric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:41.402 + 0.711 15
7. Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:41.523 + 0.832 9
8. Nico Hülkenberg Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:41.642 + 0.951 19
9. Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:41.686 + 0.995 23
10. Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:41.830 + 1.139 22
11. Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:41.923 + 1.232 14
12. Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:42.117 + 1.426 20
13. Adrian Sutil Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:42.365 + 1.674 21
14. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:42.869 + 2.178 21
15. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:42.904 + 2.213 23
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:43.825 + 3.134 18
17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:45.775 + 5.084 24
18. Max Chilton Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:46.911 + 6.220 10
19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:51.180 + 10.489 5
20. Sergio Pérez Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 no time 2
21. Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 no time 2
22. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 no time 4

Images Sutton Images

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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.