Rosberg on top in Sepang practice

Nico Rosberg set the pace in Friday Practice at Sepang

Nico Rosberg set the pace in Friday Practice at Sepang

Nico Rosberg remains the man to beat as his Mercedes topped the times in final Friday Free Practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

The Australian Grand Prix winner posted the fastest time of the day with a 1.39.909s effort which was just four hundredths of a second quicker than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest with his best time within a tenth of Rosberg’s effort, while team mate Daniel Ricciardo was seventh quickest.

Mercedes continued to hold the edge in terms of performance, highlighted by Lewis Hamilton topping the times in Free Practice 1. However the Brackley team’s advantage over the rest has been significantly cut.

Ferrari appear to have made up the most ground on the Silver Arrows with both Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso posting times just a tenth adrift of Rosberg. Double world champion Alonso finished fifth overall.

Red Bull’s upturn in performance also continued with Vettel and Ricciardo enjoying the fastest times in the technical high speed sector 2.

Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas once again showed Williams will be challenging the top order by producing solid race runs. The pair were sixth and ninth respectively.

Meanwhile McLaren, who were testing several updates on their MP4-29, struggled for outright pace. Jenson Button was sixth tenths adrift in eighth while Kevin Magnussen could only set a time good enough for 12th position.

The dry and dusty track played havoc with the drivers in free practice with several of the field struggling to slow their cars down in the braking zones resulting in spins.

Marussia’s Max Chilton was the first to be caught out in FP2 at turn 3, while Jean-Eric Vergne lost control of his Toro Rosso at the final corner.

On the whole reliability had improved since Australia although Lotus continued to struggle with drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean both failing to post a time during FP1.

The cars returned to the track in the second free practice session but an issue for Maldonado forced him back tot he pits.

He was followed shortly after by Grosjean, when his E22 was jammed in second gear. The Frenchman did return to the track later in the session only to stop out on circuit.

 Free Practice 2 Times

 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m39.909s 30
 2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m39.944s +0.035s 30
 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m39.970s +0.061s 30
 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m40.051s +0.142s 32
 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m40.103s +0.194s 29
 6. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m40.112s +0.203s 34
 7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m40.276s +0.367s 29
 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m40.628s +0.719s 28
 9. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m40.638s +0.729s 35
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m40.691s +0.782s 34
11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m40.777s +0.868s 33
12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.014s +1.105s 20
13. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.257s +1.348s 28
14. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m41.325s +1.416s 32
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.407s +1.498s 34
16. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m41.671s +1.762s 25
17. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m42.531s +2.622s 14
18. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m43.638s +3.729s 20
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m43.752s +3.843s 29
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m45.703s +5.794s 31
21. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault  0
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault  0

Free Practice 1 Times 

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m40.691s 19
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m40.843s +0.152s 20
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m41.028s +0.337s 19
4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.111s +0.420s 20
5. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.274s +0.583s 18
6. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m41.402s +0.711s 15
7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m41.523s +0.832s 9
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m41.642s +0.951s 19
9. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m41.686s +0.995s 23
10. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m41.830s +1.139s 22
11. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.923s +1.232s 14
12. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m42.117s +1.426s 20
13. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.365s +1.674s 21
14. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m42.869s +2.178s 21
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.904s +2.213s 23
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m43.825s +3.134s 18
17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m45.775s +5.084s 24
18. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m46.911s +6.220s 10
19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m51.180s +10.489s 5
20. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2
21. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2
22. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 4

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