Sebastian Vettel brushed aside his Bahrain spin to set the pace in FP1 in China; his medium tyre lap 0.2s faster than Lewis Hamilton’s best on the softs.
Formula 1 arrived at the Shanghai International Circuit with even the weather celebrating the sport’s 1000th grand prix weekend.
With the track temperature up to 30’C at the start of FP1, the conditions were vastly better than in previous chilly years.
The morning’s opening gambit was fired by George Russell in the Williams, a 1:40, but 10 minutes later the benchmark time was down to a 1:35.9 set by Vettel on the medium tyres.
40 minutes in, though, it was Mercedes who held the 1-2 with Hamilton 0.043s up on Valtteri Bottas. They were running the soft tyres.
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Heading out for a second run Mercedes opted to put new softs on their W10s while Ferrari stuck with the medium tyres.
Charles Leclerc briefly went quickest before he was pipped by Hamilton by 0.049s. Both were then beaten by Vettel, a 1:33.911 for the German.
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Max Verstappen put in a late run on the soft tyres to take fourth place off Bottas. The Red Bull driver was 0.4s off Vettel’s pace.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth quickest in the Renault. He is running a new MGU-K for this weekend after Renault redesigned the part to improve the reliability.
Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean completed the top ten.
Stroll had the only newsworthy moment of the session as he spun and slid at the final corner, “laying down rubber” as Racing Point put it.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 12, 2019
F1’s midfield from Ricciardo in sixth to Sergio Perez in P17 was separated by just 0.6s.
Meanwhile it was a wretched start to the weekend for Antonio Giovinazzi as the Alfa Romeo driver managed just two laps before a loss of power left him stranded in the pits.
According to reports it is a power issue, something to do with the installation of the engine.
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.911
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.207s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.256s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.423s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.742s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.328s
7 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1.517s
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.536s
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.555s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.596s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.606s
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.680s
13 Lando Norris McLaren 1.720s
14 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1.784s
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.818s
16 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.845s
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.909s
18 Robert Kubica Williams 2.936s
19 George Russell Williams 3.708s
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing
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