Lewis Hamilton beaten by Nico Rosberg in Australia practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Melbourne
Australian GP: Nico Rosberg fastest in Melbourne second practice

Nico Rosberg pipped team-mate Lewis Hamilton to set the pace in Friday practice as Mercedes dominated at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The German was 0.1 seconds quicker than Hamilton and 0.715secs clear of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in third.

Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, ahead of Williams's Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull.

McLaren's Jenson Button was 12th, 3.69secs off the pace, while team-mate Kevin Magnussen crashed.

The Dane, replacing Fernando Alonso this weekend and perilously short of mileage after completing just 39 laps in pre-season testing, lost control at Turn Six early in the session and broke the car's front suspension against the barriers.

He said he "lost the rear" after the car "took him by surprise".

Kevin Magnussen
There were red flags while Kevin Magnussen's car was moved from the track

The Manor Marussia team, who only just made it to the first race after an 11th-hour rescue by a new investor, did not do any laps.

Neither did Williams's Felipe Massa, whose Mercedes engine had a water leak, and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who needed his Renault engine changed.

Lotus's Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen also had troubled sessions as a result of reliability problems.

After two sessions in glorious Australian sunshine, Mercedes appeared to have an advantage in the region of at least 0.8secs whether in low-fuel qualifying trim or high-fuel race trim.

Chief F1 writer Andrew Benson on the Australian GP
"It's hard to think of a better place to start the season than Melbourne and somehow it would not seem right if the opener was anywhere else.
It's an awfully long way to go for a motor race but the reward is a vibrant, fun city, a view of Port Phillip Bay, and one of the loveliest venues on the calendar.
The autumn leaves are just starting to fall in Albert Park when Formula 1 pops by, the air is scented by pine and eucalyptus and the atmosphere crackles with anticipation of the season ahead. And the track, a mix of street and road circuit, with walls ever close, pretty much guarantees action of one kind or another."

Ferrari and Williams appear to be next in line with perhaps a small advantage over Red Bull, although Ricciardo's absence from the session meant judging the pace of the former world champions was difficult.

The Sauber cars missed the first session as their court dispute with Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde continued, but both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson ran in the second, with the Brazilian 11th fastest and the Swede 15th.

Sauber and Van Der Garde, who won his case claiming he has a valid contract with the team for this season, are now in negotiations to try to settle the case out of court.

Australian GP practice results

Australian GP coverage details

Despite a high-profile court case, Sauber ran both cars in Melbourne
Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo's car required an engine change so did not make it out to P2
A black swan walks along the edge of the lake during practice
Albert Park in Melbourne is bathed in autumnal sunshine

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