Jenson Button has headed the timesheets in the opening practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, his McLaren just edging out Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for the fastest time overall.

It was a dramatic a tightly-fought session, with less than one-tenth of a second separating the leading trio.

However, the session was marred by yet another engine failure for Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, which has again called into question the reliability of the Ferrari V8 engine that has failed Fernando in Bahrain and Malaysia.

Of greater concern was the very strange accident that befell Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi, who suffered what appeared to be a front suspension failure at the end of the back straight, causing the STR5 to jettison its front wheels and pitch the hapless Swiss driver into the gravel at high speed in a manner akin to a toboggan.

Jenson Button

Thankfully, he was able to climb from the wreck unaided and seemingly uninjured.

The track conditions were very slippery at the start of the session, but conditions steadily improved over the course of its 90-minute duration. However, many drivers complained of the poor grip – brought on by the low ambient temperatures and ‘green’ nature of the circuit – and the resultant oversteer and tyre wear it created.

Of other concern was a large bump on the approach to the very fast Turn 1 – for which several drivers complained – that was responsible for front wing damage to Timo Glock’s Virgin and rear diffuser damage to Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus.

Button’s time of 1:36.677 was set midway through the session, with the McLaren driver taking full advantage of the extra top speed afforded to him by the ‘F-duct’ incorporated on his MP4-25.

It looked as though the McLarens would head to an unsurprising 1-2, but for Nico Rosberg to haul his Mercedes into contention with a great lap, just a fraction slower than the Briton.

Michael Schumacher put in a late flying lap to move up to fourth place in the closing minutes of the session, after the debris had been cleared from Buemi’s accident.

The Red Bulls were not the pacesetters as they have typically been in previous rounds, with fifth-placed Sebastian Vettel’s best time almost a second slower than Button’s best. Mark Webber finished 8th-quickest.

Renault had a promising first session, with Robert Kubica 6th and Vitaly Petrov 7th, separated by mere fractions – a particularly positive session for the Russian rookie driver.


2010 Chinese GP Practice 1 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:36.677 15
2. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 0.071 17
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.098 19
4. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 0.832 14
5. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 0.924 20
6. Robert Kubica POL Renault + 1.039 17
7. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 1.068 25
8. Mark Webber AU Red Bull Renault + 1.303 17
9. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes + 1.331 13
10. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 1.421 19
11. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.484 19
12. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.698 21
13. Pedro de la Rosa ESP Sauber Ferrari + 1.744 19
14. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 1.892 20
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes + 1.941 26
16. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 2.001 17
17. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 3.262 5
18. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Cosworth + 4.854 22
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth + 5.102 23
20. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 5.153 20
21. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 5.504 27
22. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 7.198 23
23. Karun Chandhok IND HRT Cosworth + 7.272 20
24. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari no time 6

[Original image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.