Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP prepares to drive during practice for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo: Getty Images)

of Germany and GP prepares to drive during practice for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nico Rosberg set the pace in Malaysia on Friday, but the Mercedes driver admitted that keeping his tires in good shape was a major concern.

“It was a decent day,” said Rosberg. “It was very, very hot, tough for the car and tough for the tires. We never expected so much tire degradation, it’s just massive degradation out there, which is a big challenge. For sure there will be lots of different strategies. With the tires, anything can happen.”

Rosberg said there were no issues with fuel conservation.

“It’s not a problem this year, especially this track, it’s not on the limit here. That’s not unusual in any way, it’s like last year. We’re just focussing more on the tires and getting the long runs done.”

Regarding his personal battle with Lewis Hamilton, he said: “Definitely it will be close, it will always be close I think, and I need to try and stay ahead. Being on pole does help, just getting that clean start and getting away from the front is always a big advantage at the beginning of the race.”

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