Nico Rosberg has opened up the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix with the fastest time by a comfortable margin as team-mate Lewis Hamilton failed to complete a lap due to an engine problem.
Hamilton was unable to complete a flying lap after aborting his first four-lap run and then grinding to a halt on his fifth lap at Turn 9. Radio communications suggested that this was a precautionary measure because of concerns about damaging the engine, leading to the team telling Hamilton to shut the car down rather than bringing it back to the pits.
Hamilton’s absence meant that Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was able to end the session second fastest, banging in a lap just 0.373s off Rosberg in the dying moments of the session.
Raikkonen had run well on his first set of hard rubber, although he did have a brief off at Turn 15, ending up as best of the rest. He then set a time within nine tenths of Rosberg before his late improvement.
Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel had a troubled start to the day, failing to set a time on his first set of tyres, which can only be used during the first 30 minutes of the session. But he returned to the track late and went third fastest, 0.861s down, momentarily snatching second from Raikkonen late in the session, seconds before the Finn improved again.
Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest for Lotus, although one of the stars of the session was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr in fifth. The Spaniard was second fastest in the first half-hour and that time proved to be good enough for fifth overall even though he was unable to make the expected improvement on his second set of tyres.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest ahead of Max Verstappen, with the lead Williams of Valtteri Bottas eighth fastest. Bottas was returning after missing the Australian GP thanks to a back injury, although he had been warned that he may suffer some some pain.
Daniil Kvyat was ninth fastest in the second Red Bull ahead of the lead Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. Felipe Massa was 11th fastest, but the Brazilian should have set a quicker time. On his first flier on his second set of rubber, he ran wide at Turn 11 and took a bite of the gravel, and while he subsequently improved it’s likely he would have been several places higher had he not made the error.