Heated free practices in Shanghai
Mercedes reasserted their authority over Ferrari in both Friday’s practice sessions for the 2015 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, with world champion Lewis Hamilton heading team mate Nico Rosberg by half a second in first free practice Shanghai.
The scarlet cars of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were a second off the leading pace at the end of the 90 minutes, with Sauber‘s Felipe Nasr and Red Bull‘s Daniel Ricciardo the only other men able to get within two seconds of Hamilton’s time.
It had all looked very different at the halfway point of the first session, when Rosberg sat a top the timesheet and Hamilton languished in 20th. The first session itself was marked by several off-track moments and lock-ups as the surface temperature climbed from an initial 26 degrees Celsius to 34 – Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Palmer, his Lotus team mate Pastor Maldonado, Toro Rosso duo Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson all explored the available grip and exceeded it, sometimes quite spectacularly, while Felipe Massa spun his Williams after running too deep into Turn 14.
Reigning GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer, meanwhile, enjoyed a positive practice debut with Lotus, finishing 15th despite an early spin, while Marussia got both cars on track as they overcame the technical problems that prevented Will Stevens racing at the last round in Malaysia.
In the second free practice Hamilton was fastest again, with 1:37.219 lap time. Almost half second behind was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikonen, while third best time achieved Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, leaving Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg behind him.
And again there were few crashes and spinnings. Felipe Massa had another problem whne he lost his car under braking for the hairpin again at turn 14 and skewed left into the barriers, his tyres squealing in protest as he went. Daniil Kvyat also had an odd moment. With some flames and smoke coming from his left-rear brake, he was on a slow lap back to the pits but still carrying enough speed to run off track at the end of the long back straight. The Red Bull bounced through a gravel trap and was almost at a stop when it kissed the crash barrier. A soft impact but enough to remove the front wing.
Vettel also had 360 degrees turning at the exit of Turn 3, he catched the gravel, but carried on and radioed back to say the car was in good condition.
McLaren improved a lot in the second session in Shanghai with Button on 10th and Alonso on 12th. Both Lotus’ confirmed they will be n the cahse for the points on Sunday finishing ath 9th and 11th, while Sauber’s Felipe Nasr again had a good performance caliming 8th with less than two second behind Hamilton.