By Abhishek Takle
SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg set the timesheets ablaze in Friday's opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but it was Kevin Magnussen's fiery Renault that stoleall the attention.
The Dane was being wheeled into his garage having just come into the pits following an installation lap seven minutes into the 90-minute session when his car was engulfed in a blaze, forcing him to hot foot it out of the car.
Renault mechanics initially brought the fire under control, squirting extinguisher all over, but fluid gushing out of the top of the airbox kept re-igniting, leaving the car stranded in the pit-lane and bringing out the red flags.
The fire was eventually put out for good and the car, coated in extinguishing foam was rolled back into the garage.
The session resumed after a 15-minute stoppage and there was no further drama other than minor lock-ups and offs for drivers getting to grips with the resurfaced Sepang track.
It was Rosberg who adapted best setting a benchmark pace of one minute, 35.227 seconds, 0.494 seconds quicker than Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton.
The German team, who could wrap up their third successive constructors' championship on Sunday, were in a league of their own with Kimi Raikkonen and last year's winner Sebastian Vettel third and fourth.
The Ferrari duo were well adrift of the silver cars, however, with their best over a second off Rosberg's pace.
Fernando Alonso, set to start Sunday's race at the back of the grid after running a new updated Honda engine that pushed his use of engine-related components beyond his permitted allocation, set the fifth fastest time.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, ahead of Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen, who was celebrating his 19th birthday on Friday.
The Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth.
Jenson Button, who will line up for his 300th grand prix start on Sunday, rounded out the top-10.
Rosberg heads into Sunday's race gunning for his fourth successive win.
The German has an eight-point advantage over Hamilton in the overall standings having regained the lead following his win at the last race in Singapore.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)