Nico Rosberg led team-mate Lewis Hamilton by three-tenths of a second in the opening practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Rosberg set an early fast time of 1:10.401 which put him over a second quicker than Hamilton. The 29-year-old didn’t improve on the time he set in the first 30 minutes of the session, however Hamilton threatened to pip his teammate, although he ran wide on the last corner and he was only able to close the gap to 0.3 seconds.

Kimi Räikkönen was third for Ferrari as the Italian outfit edge closer to splitting the Mercedes pair. The Finn was the only driver in the field, beside Hamilton, to get within a second of Rosberg’s benchmark.

His teammate Sebastian Vettel only completed four laps, after his Ferrari lost drive in fourth gear just after Turn 1. A suspected gearbox gremlin kept the German out of the remainder of the session as the team set to work to get the car ready for second practice.

McLaren’s weekend went from bad to worse all in the space of one lap, as Fernando Alonso’s engine cut out on his installation lap. This was Alonso’s fifth engine that had cost him his grid penalty. He spent most of the session in the garage while the team fixed the problem which seemed to be electronic. Alonso was finally able to return to the track with 15 minutes left in the session and put in 10 laps, 20 less than teammate Jenson Button who finished a position higher in sixteenth.

Jolyon Palmer stepped in for Romain Grosjean again and had another strong outing in the Lotus. He completed 27 laps with a best time of 1:12.050, just 0.05s off Pastor Maldonado in the other Lotus.

Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a good session for Williams finishing fourth fastest ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, who took advantage of quiet track times to put in a few quick laps. His team-mate Marcus Ericsson was well down the order in fifteenth and half a second slower.

The Red Bull pair were well placed with Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finishing in sixth and seventh place respectively. Red Bull has confirmed that Ricciardo will take a fifth engine which will see the Australian drop 10 grid places from where he qualifies.

Max Verstappen was just a tenth of a second off the Red Bull’s pace, as he struggled to get to grips with the circuit as well as the setup of his car. Many drivers complained of tyre temperatures or the low grip of the track, but Verstappen complained of an ‘undriveable’ car.

Friday’s second practice session at Spielberg begins at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).

Formula 1 Grosser Preis von Österreich 2015 – Free Practice 1 Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:10.401 36
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:10.709 + 0.308 28
3. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:11.028 + 0.627 22
4. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:11.452 + 1.051 26
5. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:11.633 + 1.232 28
6. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:11.642 + 1.241 31
7. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:11.724 + 1.323 29
8. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:11.825 + 1.424 38
9. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:11.890 + 1.489 29
10. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:11.905 + 1.504 37
11. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:11.948 + 1.547 32
12. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:12.004 + 1.603 34
13. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:12.031 + 1.630 36
14. Jolyon Palmer uk Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:12.050 + 1.649 27
15. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:12.159 + 1.758 30
16. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:12.920 + 2.519 30
17. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:13.272 + 2.871 10
18. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:13.937 + 3.536 29
19. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:15.459 + 5.058 11
20. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:15.684 + 5.283 4

Image via Sutton Images

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