Malaysian Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg heads the field as Kevin Magnussen's Renault catches fire

Magnussen leapt out of his Renault in the pit lane when it caught fire as he was being wheeled into the garage

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The Independent Online

Championship leader Nico Rosberg finished fastest in an opening practice session for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix which was marked by Kevin Magnussen scrambling out of his car following an astonishing pit-lane fire.

Rosberg, who is eight points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the title race, finished nearly half-a-second clear of his Mercedes team-mate at a sweltering Sepang International Circuit on Friday morning.

But Magnussen and his Renault team were the talk of the paddock after the Danish driver's car caught fire following an apparent fuel leak in the opening moments of the 90-minute session.

As Magnussen was being wheeled back into his garage, fuel started spilling out of his Renault before it dramatically set alight. Magnussen, the former McLaren driver, launched his steering wheel out of his cockpit before leaping out of his car.

His Renault mechanics acted quickly to extinguish the flames and thankfully nobody was injured in the incident - but with fuel still pouring out of Magnussen's car, the fire continued to burn.

As such, the session was red-flagged with the Enstone-based team attempting to pump fuel out of Magnussen's car while repeatedly extinguishing the flames. The vehicle and a section of the pit lane were subsequently covered in the foam used to eradicate the fire.


Renault mechanics repeatedly tried to put the fire out (Getty)


Fuel leaked all over the Renault which resulted in the fire (Getty)

Unsurprisingly, Magnussen did not participate in any further running when the session eventually got back under way nearly 20 minutes later.

And it was Rosberg, who is bidding to secure his fourth consecutive victory, who posted the fastest lap of the session ahead of Hamilton, with the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel third and fourth - albeit one second adrift of Rosberg's fastest time.


Hamilton was half a second behind his teammate Rosberg (Getty)

Fernando Alonso, who was testing an updated Honda engine here, was an impressive fifth although the Spaniard will serve a 30-place grid drop following a number of changes to his power unit.

Jenson Button, set to start his 300th grand prix, finished 10th in the order while Jolyon Palmer, the British rookie in the sister Renault, was 19th.

Leading Times after First Practice:

1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1min 35.227secs

2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:35.721

3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:36.315

4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:36.331

5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:36.510

6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:36.753

7 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:36.973

8 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:37.513

9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:37.601

10 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:37.613

11 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.847

12 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 1:37.861

13 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:37.886

14 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas F1 1:37.921

15 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:38.055

16 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.184

17 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.313

18 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:38.339

19 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1:39.148

20 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor Racing 1:40.036

21 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor Racing 1:40.627

22 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault No Time