October 10, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Nico Rosberg edged Mercedes teammate and Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton in Friday's morning practice for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes pair has dominated all season, and was again firmly in control despite an unfamiliar track making its debut.

Rosberg's fastest lap on the Sochi Autodrom was 1 minute, 42.311 seconds; 0.065 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen of McLaren were third and fifth fastest respectively, split by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The new circuit is built around the Olympic Park, used for the Winter Olympics in February.

The Marussia team ran only one car in respect to its driver Jules Bianchi, who remains in a critical but stable condition with severe head injuries after crashing into a mobile crane in the Japanese GP last Sunday.

Bianchi's father, Philippe, told the newspaper Nice Matin that ''Jules is fighting as he always did, the same way as if he was racing. He is strong.''

With the French driver's car in pit lane, Marussia's other driver, Max Chilton, placed last in the first practice.

''It is going to be a very emotional weekend for the whole team, but we will try to get through it and keep praying for Jules,'' Chilton said.

Alonso's car bore a sign saying ''Forza Jules'' (Go Jules), while other drivers had a sticker on their helmets saying in French ''Tous avec Jules'' (Everybody with Jules).

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