The 2016 Formula One season started under a cloud, literally, with the first session of the weekend hit by showers and a blustery wind. It didn’t stop reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton though, setting the fastest lap in the ninety minute period.
It was a 1:29.7 for Lewis Hamilton, ahead of Red Bull drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. The Russia just four tenths behind the Mercedes, while the Ricciardo was over a second behind. With much of the session intermediate running, some dry running at the end of the session followed by a shower caught out Ricciardo, with him ending up in the gravel.
Nico Hulkenberg followed in fourth, while Max Verstappen was in fifth, also having a spin during the session.
Not getting the best of the conditions, Nico Rosberg was down in sixth place and two seconds off the pace of his team mate.
The gaps were then getting larger at the lower end of the top ten, the inbetween conditions causing a large spread between the drivers. McLaren were then next up, Fernando Alonso just ahead of teammate Jenson Button, although three seconds away from the pace. They would continue work they needed to do in testing having fallen behind in Barcelona.
To complete the top ten, Sergio Perez was ninth, with Renault’s Kevin Magnussen ended the session in tenth.
As is usual, Williams were not in the top ten during the first free practice, with the team usually only showing their hand during qualifying.
Heading towards the back of the field and the gaps got even bigger, notable that Kimi Raikkonen was down in 17th completing 11 laps, while Sebastian Vettel only completed install laps in the other Ferrari. Associate team Haas also had limited running giving the lack of parts they have and the tricky conditions.
Carlos Sainz did very little running, leading it until a hour remaining before heading out onto the circuit, before slowing in the pit lane at the end of his installation lap in the Toro Rosso.