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
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:39.061|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:39.625|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:39.676|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:40.169|
|10||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:40.232|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:40.347|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||No Time|
|21||Esteban Guttierez||Haas||No Time|
|22||Felipe Massa||Williams||No Time|