Hamilton sets pace as Rosberg crashes out

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time while his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg crashed out during wet Friday practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Heavy morning rain and intermittent showers throughout the day meant there was very little useful running in terms of preparation for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race, which are expected to be dry.

Hamilton set the fastest time in opening practice when there was a small window of dry-weather tire use, and was quickest again in the second practice when only the intermediate and wet-weather tires were used.

Rosberg crashed out in the second session, when his car aquaplaned on surface water and hit a concrete barrier, knocking off the front wing and prematurely ending his day.

In the first session, Hamilton's best lap was 1:29.725 seconds – 3.4 seconds slower than last year's pole position time – and that was four tenths of a second faster than Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull. Local favorite Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg were third and fourth.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was not able to complete a first session lap, with rain arriving each time he was preparing to venture out on track.

Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen set the fifth best time, ahead of Rosberg, whose time was more than two seconds off that of Hamilton. Though the conditions made many times misleading, the German will be disappointed in not being able to land a psychological blow on his teammate in their tense intra-team rivalry.

McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were seventh and eighth respectively in the first practice, in a more encouraging showing for a team that expects to make major early progress this season after a very disappointing first season with Honda engines in 2015.

Force India's Sergio Perez was ninth, and Kevin Magnussen 10th in what was both his first session back as a race driver after one year with McLaren, and the first for Renault, which is returning as a team after serving as an engine supplier.