Chinese Grand Prix: Practice 1

By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer

The great wall of Mercedes is being assembled at Shanghai International Circuit as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took the top two positions in the opening practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix. Points leader Rosberg took the top position by a slight margin over teammate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg, however, limped home with an engine issue at sessions end which could place him in a similar situation as Hamilton with a grid penalty if repair is needed on the engine.

Two red flags halted the session as Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen suffered what appeared to be left rear tire failures. Massa actually experienced the tire issue twice in the session and on the same corner of the race car. This  suggests a loading issue that needs to be addressed by tire manufacturer Pirelli.

By sessions end, the teams were still trying to determine whether this was a Pirelli tire issue, a team issue for Williams and Renault, or perhaps the curbing of the racetrack itself.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took third position while teammate Kimi Raikkonen brought the second Ferrari home in P5. The Scuderia seriously needs to bring both cars home this week to rebound from the reliability issues they have experienced in the first two rounds.

The Red Bulls and Toro Rossos all showed speed with the Bulls slotting in 4th and 6th for Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat, while Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen showed the 7th and 10th best time.

McLaren’s fortune continues to look bright as Jenson Button sat in 8th position while Fernando Alonso tallied the 12th fastest lap in P1. Alonso was cleared to race provisionally by FIA medical staff and will be reexamined after the first practice to see if he will be permitted to continue onward in the race weekend.

Free Practice 1 Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.037
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.183
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.665
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.061
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.155
6 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:39.625
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:39.676
8 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.974
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:40.169
10 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:40.232
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:40.347
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:40.538
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:40.828
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:41.358
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:41.393
16 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:41.614
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:41.816
18 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:42.908
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:42.980
20 Kevin Magnussen Renault No Time
21 Esteban Guttierez Haas No Time
22 Felipe Massa Williams No Time

Image: Mercedes

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Growing up in a racing family, Steve Aibel was surrounded by Allards, Crosleys and Corvettes! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Steve was drawn to the automobile magazines strewn throughout the house and Formula 1 in particular. With go karts, motorcycles and vintage race cars in the garage, it was inevitable that the torch would be carried by Steve. Lime Rock Park was his own personal playground while still keeping an eye on the pinnacle of motorsports overseas called Formula 1. Now, in the shadows of Circuit of the Americas, Steve is able to not only follow F1, he makes it the object of this racing stories. This passion for Formula 1 is shared weekly writing original articles for both Tribute Racing and Drafting the Circuits. He also participates in two weekly radio shows. Drafting The Circuits, (, which airs Tuesday evening at 7 pm CST and Formula 1 Racing Plus (, which broadcasts throughout the week on Performance Motorsports Network. Steve's motorsports photography can be found at

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