Malaysian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton back on top in battle with Nico Rosberg after things heat up in Sepang

Kevin Magnussen was able to return to the track after a scary mment in first practice when a fuel fire broke out on his Renault

Click to follow

Lewis Hamilton got his stuttering championship campaign back on track by posting the fastest time in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday.

Hamilton, who has fallen eight points adrift of his sole title rival Nico Rosberg after seeing his Mercedes team-mate romp to a hat-trick of consecutive victories, was one quarter of a second faster than the German at a sweltering Sepang International Circuit.

Rosberg topped the morning session - one which was marked by Kevin Magnussen scrambling out of his car following an astonishing pit-lane fine - but Hamilton, who failed to trouble the top of the practice order before suffering a crushing defeat to Rosberg last time out in Singapore, was the only driver to dip below the one minute and 35 second barrier on Friday.

The world champion's best time of one minute and 34.944 seconds saw him finish ahead of Rosberg with the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel, a winner here last year, and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth respectively, albeit more than half a second adrift of Hamilton.

Max Verstappen, who celebrated his 19th birthday on Friday, was fifth fastest for Red Bull with Force India's Sergio Perez sixth and Fernando Alonso, who is trialling an updated Honda engine this weekend, seventh in the order.

Earlier, Magnussen and his Renault team were the talk of the pit lane after the Danish driver's car caught fire following a fuel leak in the opening moments of the first 90-minute session.

Kevin Magnussen's car catches fire in Malaysia practice

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 the 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 the stricken Renault while repeatedly extinguishing the flames. The car and a section of the pit lane were subsequently covered in the foam used to eradicate the fire.

Unsurprisingly, Magnussen did not participate in any further running in the first practice session, but his Renault team performed an impressive clean-up job to enable him to complete 19 laps later in the day.

Jenson Button, who will become only the third driver in Formula One history to start 300 races, was 10th in the order, while British rookie Jolyon Palmer will be heartened by his performance after he finished 12th.

Final Times after Second Practice:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 34.944secs

2 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:35.177

3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:35.605

4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:35.842

5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:36.037

6 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:36.284

7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:36.296

8 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:36.337

9 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:36.390

10 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:36.715

11 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36.836

12 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1:36.940

13 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 1:37.016

14 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas F1 1:37.048

15 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:37.110

16 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.297

17 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.449

18 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.547

19 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault 1:37.664

20 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:37.789

21 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor Racing 1:37.878

22 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor Racing 1:37.990