Rosberg fastest at Hockenheim

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Nico Rosberg topped the times at the end of first practice for the German Grand Prix (AP) Nico Rosberg topped the times at the end of first practice for the German Grand Prix (AP)

Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg kick-started his bid for glory on home soil by posting the fastest lap in opening practice for the German Grand Prix.

Rosberg is aiming to complete the week of his life as over the past few days he has got married, watched Germany win the World Cup and signed a new long-term deal with Mercedes.

The 29-year-old finished top of the timesheet at Hockenheim, just 0.065 seconds ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in their ongoing duel for this season's world title.

Hamilton should undoubtedly have been faster, yet encountered issues in the final sector through the stadium complex, potentially as a result of the loss of the FRIC suspension system.

Ahead of this race FIA race director Charlie Whiting caused a stir amongst the teams by sending a letter threatening to outlaw the front and rear interconnected (FRIC) device.

FRIC enables the cars to maintain a constant ride height and is believed to have played a role in Mercedes' dominance so far this season.

Following a detailed investigation of most of the systems, Whiting feels FRIC contravenes one of the FIA's catch-all regulations with regard to moveable aerodynamic devices.

In fear of a rival launching a protest, the FIA confirmed all teams had opted to remove the device prior to practice.

On track its benefits were immediately apparent as a number of cars ran wide in the slow corners due to being forced to run a higher, stiffer front suspension.

The Mercedes of Rosberg and Hamilton were high amongst those who suffered difficulties, in particular the latter.

Hamilton was comfortably fastest in the opening two sectors, but in the third was off the pace and so had to settle for second best behind Rosberg.

The three cars behind were all from different teams, spearheaded by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard 0.292secs down.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth quickest in his Red Bull, just over half a second back, followed by Jenson Button in his McLaren - sporting a new rear wing - 0.7s adrift.

Four-times champion Sebastian Vettel was sixth and almost a second off the pace.

Williams' development driver Susie Wolff finished 15th, 1.639 down on Rosberg and a quarter of a second back on team-mate Felipe Massa, who was 11th.

For one dreadful moment, though, it appeared as if Wolff's latest practice outing would again be short-lived, as was the case in first practice for the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago.

On that day Wolff made history as she became the first woman for 22 years to take part in a race weekend, and only the sixth overall.

However, Wolff's joy turned into what she described as "a heart-wrenchingly emotional moment" when her car stopped on track after just 20 minutes and four laps due to an engine failure caused by an oil pressure problem.

Given a second bite of the cherry at Hockenheim, with Valtteri Bottas again making way, on her first outlap and just over a minute into the session, Wolff was seen touring.

Mercifully, unlike at Silverstone where she was forced to pull off track, the 31-year-old Scot was able to coast back to the garage where the team rectified an unspecified problem.

Marussia's Max Chilton also encountered issues with his car early on, but returned to finish four seconds down at the bottom of the times.

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