Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session for this weekends Chinese Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver dominated the session going fastest early on with fastest sectors in every part of the lap and was almost a second faster by the end of the session.
That put the Englishman three tenths faster than the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen after he set his best lap on the ultrasoft tyres. Hamilton who needs to get his season back on track has always performed well in Shanghai, and Mercedes want a win to start his season.
Despite a spin, the Mercedes driver and four times winner outpaced Raikkonen by three tenths on the ultrasofts, while his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was nearly a further tenth behind in third.
The Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fourth and fifth fastest. The session was mixed for the Dutchman, on his final flying lap he locked up into the final corner and spun, which caused a significant flat spot on his tyres.
Sebastian Vettel was unable to unlock the pace of the top five, settling for sixth and last of the top three teams. The German was eight-tenths of a second off Hamilton’s fastest time.
Haas’s strong start to the session continued as Kevin Magnussen was a strong seventh and his teammate Romain Grosjean ninth. The Renault’s were on far behind with eighth Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg tenth.
The group were covered sixth-tenths of a second, in what could be a close battle between the two midfield teams this weekend. After fifth on Sunday in Bahrain, Pierre Gasly was only seventh fastest since returning to the sport Honda has struggled in Shanghai because of its long straight.
Fernando Alonso was only twelfth fastest, using the ultrasoft tyres he was over two seconds off Hamilton and just ahead of the Force Indias whose early season struggles looks to have carried through to China.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished 13th and 14th fastest but the pair only ran the medium tyre in the session, so significant improvement is expected in this afternoon’s session.