British GP P1: Nico Rosberg fastest as Williams suffer double disappointment

Massa crashes out while Wolff's debut cut short by engine failure

By Mike Wise at Silverstone.   Last Updated: 04/07/14 4:38pm

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Felipe Massa: High-speed crash

Felipe Massa: High-speed crash

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Mercedes led the way in opening practice for the British GP on Friday morning, although there was double disappointment for Williams after both Felipe Massa and Susie Wolff came to grief at Silverstone.

With current championship leader Nico Rosberg setting the pace ahead of team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton, the session turned into something of a nightmare for Williams, who were Mercedes' closest rivals last time out in Austria.

Becoming the first woman to take to the track in a grand prix weekend for over 22 years, Wolff managed to complete just a single flying lap before her car suffered an engine failure, Then just minutes later, Massa crashed heavily on the exit of Stowe, the Brazilian emerging unscathed but causing severe damage to his FW36.

Wolff was briefly P1 on the timesheets but no sooner had she moved moved fastest overall than the Scot was to be seen parking her car up by the side of the track. Massa's departure was far more comprehensive after he in turn lost control exiting Turn 15, the rear of his car spinning round and its momentum sending it careening into the opposing crash barriers at high speed.

The session was red-flagged for about 15 minutes while Massa's car was removed, with the sight of both Williams cars arriving back in the pits simultaneously underlining the task the team's mechanics face ahead of the afternoon's second session. 

Things appeared - to say the least - rather less fraught at Mercedes, but that's not to say that the session wasn't without its problems. Rosberg's lap of 1:35.424 meant he was 0.731s faster than Hamilton, although the German suffered an ERS failure part-way through the 90 minutes.

Behind the Silver Arrows came Fernando Alonso's Ferrari with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen fifth fastest - the pair mixing it with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.

Susie Wolff: Engine failure

The World Champion's session seemed smooth enough and although Ricciardo circulated slowly back to the pits at one stage with a gearbox problem, he was soon back out on track again.

Jenson Button, sporting a pink crash helmet this weekend in memory of his father John, was seventh fastest in his McLaren with team-mate Kevin Magnussen tenth. The pair were split by the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne.

After all the fanfare, it goes without saying that the session turned out to be a desperately disappointing one for Wolff. Even so, she didn't end up rock bottom - that dubious honour going instead to Pastor Maldonado, who managed just two laps in total after his Lotus developed an engine problem.

Watch the 2014 British GP live on Sky Sports F1. Extensive coverage of the Silverstone race weekend begins with Friday Practice from 9.45am on July 4.

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