German ends session two tenths ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Kvyat third for Toro Rosso.
Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the opening practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, lapping 0.221s quicker than championship-leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Third fastest was Daniil Kvyat, the Russian showing impressive pace in his Toro Rosso. He finished two hundredths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, though almost a full second down on the dominant Mercedes cars.
Felipe Massa took fifth place for Williams at his home circuit, while Max Verstappen was sixth quickest in the second Toro Rosso, with the Italian squad looking in good shape at the Sao Paulo track.
Lotus, too, looked to have carried over the good form that earned Pastor Maldonado his first points of the season at last weekend’s round in the United States. The Venezuelan set the morning’s seventh fastest time ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and tenth-placed Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.
His Ricciardo’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel struggled somewhat, finishing the session in 14th place. His difficulties weren’t as acute as those afflicting Magnussen’s team-mate Jenson Button, however.
The Briton hadn’t even made it out of the pit lane exit before his McLaren shut down completely. He was wheeled back to the team’s garage for long repairs but while his crew managed to ready the car for a last-minute return to the fray they ultimately failed to get the Briton out on track.
Elsewhere, Interlagos’ new surface was causing problems, with a number of drivers finding grip hard to come by on the extremely smooth track.
Daniel Juncadella, deputising for Sergio Perez at Marussia, was one of those caught out. He spun once at Turn 6 and then later lost control at Turn 8, hitting the barriers hard. The crash brought out the red flags as his car was recovered.
Juncadella and Verstappen weren’t the only drivers in for regular racers during the session. Williams test driver Felipe Nasr, who on Wednesday evening was confirmed as a race driver for Sauber in 2015, took over Valtteri Bottas’ car, giving Williams an all-Brazilian line-up during the session.
Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez also had electrical problems with his power unit and he too failed to set a laptime.
2014 Brazilian Grand Prix – Free practice 1 1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.764 302 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.985 0.221 323 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.723 0.959 394 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:13.742 0.978 305 Felipe Massa Williams 1:13.811 1.047 286 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:13.827 1.063 267 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:14.034 1.270 318 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:14.114 1.350 329 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:14.136 1.372 3010 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:14.197 1.433 2711 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:14.434 1.670 3112 Felipe Nasr Williams 1:14.522 1.758 2213 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:14.678 1.914 3314 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:14.902 2.138 2415 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:15.109 2.345 2316 Daniel Juncadella Force India 1:16.030 3.266 1717 Jenson Button McLaren No time 118 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber