Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg has put in a late flying lap to steal top position away from Nico Rosberg in a disrupted first practice session for the Russian Grand Prix.

The delay in the session was due to a substantial diesel spill between Turns 6 and 10, which was scrubbed off with the help from the hose of a fire engine. This meant that no one was able to run in the first 30 minutes of practice, and that the free appointed tyres used in that time could not be used.

The session got underway with an hour left to run, and the drivers completed their installation laps using the intermediate compound tyre. Valtteri Bottas was the only driver to choose the full wets, as a large portion of the track was still drying from the clean-up.

After a bit of a lull where there was little track action, Fernando Alonso took to the circuit on Intermediates and was the first driver to make the switch to the soft tyre. Just like everyone on the wet-weather tyres, Alonso tentatively made his way around the green track, as the mess from the clean-up was still present.

Many drivers were caught out by the lack of grip, especially at Turn Eight, including Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen who spun as a result of the slippery conditions.

The last eight minutes of the session saw almost every driver hit the evolving track, where Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time of a 1:45.491. Lewis Hamilton came close in the closing stages as he was just two-tenths of a second slower than the four-time World Champion.

Hamilton was able to improve to close the gap to 0.7 seconds, but Hülkenberg split the two by slotting into second position by a tenth of a second.

Nico Rosberg then jumped to the top of the table on his final attempt as teammate Hamilton spun on the penultimate corner, until Hülkenberg responded once the chequered flag dropped going fastest by 0.052 seconds.

Marcus Ericsson’s engine cut out at the end of pit lane when attempting a practice start and was left to get the marshals to push his Sauber back to the garage. He finished the session down in 19th position ahead of Will Stevens.

Friday’s second practice session at Sochi begins at 14:00 local time (GMT +3).

2015 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B 1:44.355 11
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:44.407 + 0.052 15
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:44.986 + 0.631 15
4. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B 1:45.146 + 0.791 11
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:45.233 + 0.878 10
6. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:45.488 + 1.133 13
7. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:45.691 + 1.336 10
8. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:45.746 + 1.391 13
9. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:46.203 + 1.848 13
10. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:46.215 + 1.860 16
11. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:46.231 + 1.876 12
12. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:46.333 + 1.978 12
13. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:46.747 + 2.392 13
14. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:47.443 + 3.088 16
15. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:48.006 + 3.651 9
16. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:48.096 + 3.741 9
17. Jolyon Palmer uk Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:49.094 + 4.739 9
18. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B 1:52.994 + 8.639 12
19. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:54.272 + 9.917 12
20. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B 1:58.254 + 13.899 6

Image via XPB Images

Image via Force India F1 Team

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