Hamilton’s time of 1:26.187 left him over half a second clear of Button – with McLaren looking strong on a circuit expected to suit Mercedes-powered teams – and more than 0.8s ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg. Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest for Ferrari but the only other car within a second of Hamilton’s time.
Kevin Magnussen backed up Button’s time by finishing the session in fifth place, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel who was the highest Renault-powered car. Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – winner of the last two grands prix – hit trouble midway through the session as he was informed by the radio of an issue which caused him to pit and limited him to just 12 laps.
Kimi Raikkonen ended the session in seventh place ahead of Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg. It was a busy session for Force India as Dani Juncadella drove for the first half hour of the session and completed ten laps before handing the car back to Perez, who was only able to emerge in the final 25 minutes as a result.