Lewis Hamilton fired the opening salvo at the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix by going quickest in Friday’s opening practice session.
Blustery conditions caused varying grip levels around the Shanghai International Circuit, leading to a number of drivers – including the defending World Champion – spinning during the 90-minute session. Hamilton’s car swapped ends midway through the session at Turn 10 while he was on course to go even quicker.
Despite this setback, he returned to the track and ultimately clocked a time that was almost four-tenths of a second faster than anyone else. He and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas opted to save their Ultrasoft tyres, with their quickest laps posted on the slower Soft compound rubber.
Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen finished the session second-fastest to split the Mercedes teammates, ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was another driver to have dramas during the session, with the Dutchman damaging a set of tyres with a spin and trip through the gravel trap at the last corner.
Chasing the top three teams were the Haas and Renault runners, with the former’s Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean claiming seventh and ninth respectively. They were split by Carlos Sainz Jr., while his teammate Nico Hülkenberg completed the top ten.
Pierre Gasly led a tight midfield squabble in his Toro Rosso Honda, narrowly outpacing McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Force India’s Sergio Pérez. The trio’s fastest laps were covered by less than one-tenth of a second.
Their teammates had rather more troubled sessions. Brendon Hartley was almost seven-tenths slower in the second Toro Rosso, while Alonso’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was another to have a spin and trip through the kitty litter. The Belgian was over 0.7 seconds slower than Alonso in the session.
The second practice session of the Chinese Grand Prix takes place at 14:00 local time (GMT +8).
|FORMULA 1 2018 HEINEKEN CHINESE GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1 TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:33.999||22|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:34.358||+ 0.359||14|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:34.457||+ 0.458||28|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:34.537||+ 0.538||22|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:34.668||+ 0.669||22|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:34.861||+ 0.862||18|
|7.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:35.178||+ 1.179||21|
|8.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:35.676||+ 1.617||23|
|9.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:35.718||+ 1.719||21|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:35.800||+ 1.801||18|
|11.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:36.037||+ 2.038||21|
|12.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:36.044||+ 2.045||29|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:36.051||+ 2.052||28|
|14.||Esteban Ocon||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:36.351||+ 2.352||32|
|15.||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:36.691||+ 2.692||31|
|16.||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:36.715||+ 2.716||23|
|17.||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:36.723||+ 2.724||23|
|18.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:36.756||+ 2.757||25|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:36.909||+ 2.910||21|
|20.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:37.277||+ 3.278||28|
Image via Sutton Images