Max Verstappen of Red Bull led teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the first free practice session here on Friday. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third quickest, ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen followed next to complete the top six.
Rosberg, starting his 200th Grand Prix, hit the barrier on Turn 18 towards the end of the session and broke his front wing.
Hamilton was six-tenths slower than Verstappen, but both the Mercedes’ times were set on soft tyres, the hardest available compound this weekend while Team Red Bull and Ferrari set their times on the quicker ultrasoft tyres.
Red Bull is expected to come up with a strong challenge against Mercedes and Verstappen’s time should give confidence to the former champion. The Dutchman was given the upgraded new Renault engine for the first practice, as the team aims for its second win of the season.
Force India, locked in a tough battle for the fourth place in the constructors’ championship with Williams, was 12th and 13th quickest with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg respectively.
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