Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace during Friday’s practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix as he ended the second practice session almost half a second faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton posted a time of 1:37.219 during the low-fuel runs on Option tyres finishing 0.443s ahead of Raikkonen. The Finn’s performance on the soft tyres was very impressive and long run pace on the Prime tyres was also right up there with Mercedes. The stage certainly seems set for an epic battle this weekend.
Red Bull’s struggles continued with Daniel Ricciardo only making it out of the garage at the 45 minute mark, but the Australian driver managed to post the third fastest time of the session – just over a second down on Hamilton’s time.
His team mate, Daniil Kvyat posted the sixth fastest time but his session came to an early end in the barriers after he suffered a brake failure. He had left the pits with a brake problem and Red Bull called him back to the garage informing him to slowly make his way back, but he headed into the gravel at the hairpin, into the barrier and damaged his front wing.
Sebastian Vettel spun off early in on in the session but recovered to finish fourth fastest, with Nico Rosberg managing fifth after running wide at the final corner on his hot lap.
Valtteri Bottas finished seventh for Williams and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was eighth.
After sitting out the first practice session, Romain Grosjean headed out to finish ninth and Jenson Button rounded out the Top 10 in his McLaren. The McLaren team have made some definite improvements with Button only about 0.4 seconds off Grosjean’s pace on the soft tyres.
Pastor Maldonado was fastest through the speed trap but finished only 11th fastest, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson and the Toro Rosso youngsters Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.
The Brazilian driver’s session also ended early when he locked his rear tyres under braking at the hairpin and spinning off into the barriers – also damaging his front wing. His spin brought out a brief red flag while his Williams was recovered from the track.
Sergio Perez was 18th quickest, ahead of Robert Merhi and Will Stevens for the Manor Marussia team.
Stevens spent most of the session in the garage with a power unit problem but was able to head out onto track in the final few minutes of the session.
The idiotic fan was arrested and taken into police custody.
Talk about a High Speed Wedding and all. Let’s hope their marriage is a little slower paced and longer lasting.
If today’s practice sessions are anything to go by, Sunday’s race is going to be very interesting! A lot will depend on who can make their soft tyres last longest – with Ferrari already proving at the Malaysian Grand Prix that their cars are very easy on the rubber. Today too, the Ferraris showed their ability to make their tyres last. Lewis Hamilton completed 11 laps on the soft tyre before seeing a significant drop-off. Sebastian Vettel on the other hand, was still setting decent times after 14 laps on the softer rubber.
There’s still plenty to play for though – Hamilton’s pace advantage is a lot bigger than in Malaysia so Ferrari will need to work hard to catch him if he races off into a lead.
Please join us on Twitter @F1_Madness tomorrow for live coverage and chat throughout the third practice and qualifying sessions.