PICTURES

Formula One: Rosberg, Hamilton stamp authority in Malaysia

 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain enters the pit during the second practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain enters the pit during the second practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany enters the pit during the second practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany enters the pit during the second practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain walks inside his team garage during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain walks inside his team garage during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland speeds up around a corner during the second practice session at Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland speeds up around a corner during the second practice session at Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Williams driver Felipe Massa of Brazil takes part in the first practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Williams driver Felipe Massa of Brazil takes part in the first practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia speeds up during the second practice session at Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia speeds up during the second practice session at Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Lotus Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela waits in his car during the first practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Lotus Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela waits in his car during the first practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan takes part in the first practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan takes part in the first practice session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
The car of Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France is removed from the tracks during the second practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The car of Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France is removed from the tracks during the second practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Toro Rosso Formula One driver Jean-Eric Vergne of France drives during the second practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Toro Rosso Formula One driver Jean-Eric Vergne of France drives during the second practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Mechanics push the car of McLaren Formula One driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark down the pit lane during the first practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTE
Mechanics push the car of McLaren Formula One driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark down the pit lane during the first practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany looks on during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany looks on during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SEPANG (AFP) - Mercedes underlined their superiority in the new Formula One season as first Lewis Hamilton and then Nico Rosberg led the timings in the Malaysian Grand Prix practice sessions on Friday.

The British 2008 world champion topped the opening session with his German team-mate third, and it was Rosberg, winner the season-opener in Australia, who took control in the later run-out.

Both drivers carried the message, "#TributeToMH370", on their cars as the country mourns 239 people presumed dead in a disappeared Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.

Sunday's race will be preceded by a minute's silence.

While Friday practice has little bearing on the race weekend, Mercedes will be pleased to have extended the dominance they showed in Australia - although it was tight at the top in the second session.

Rosberg's time of 1min 39.909sec was three-hundredths ahead of Ferrari's 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, with four-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel improving to within six-hundredths for third spot. The top 11 drivers were all within one second of each other.

Hamilton, who veered off the track in both outings, was fourth in the second session ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Williams' Felipe Massa, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Jenson Button of McLaren.

Lotus' Pastor Maldonado and Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi both sat out the second session for repairs as their dismal start to the season continued.

And Lotus had another setback when Romain Grosjean had to pit early for repairs before returning late on - when he suffered another problem with his gears and had to retire.

Jean-Eric Vergne spun and Nico Huelkenberg, who went fastest early in the second session, ran wide into the gravel as handling problems persisted with this year's new Formula One cars.

"It's really not handling well," grumbled Denmark's Kevin Magnussen, classified second for McLaren in his debut F1 race two weeks ago, while Raikkonen later complained, "My rear tyres are sliding around".

Rosberg hit the front about a third of the way into the 90-minute run and he was later joined by Hamilton at the top of the time sheets, as Mercedes showed their superior adaptation to this year's wide technical changes.

But Raikkonen then divided the team-mates as he went second and Vettel also timed quicker than Hamilton as the Red Bull of Vettel, who lasted only a few laps in Melbourne, showed encouraging signs.

Ricciardo is fighting his disqualification from second in Melbourne over fuel irregularities, and his session ended when he ran wide and took an extended trip through the trackside gravel and grass.

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