Lewis Hamilton finished more than three tenths of a second ahead of Kimi Räikkönen as practice for the Chinese Grand Prix got underway at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The Mercedes driver set his quickest lap on Pirelli’s soft tyres, while Räikkönen needed the ultrasoft compound, two steps softer in the tyre manufacturer’s range, to split Hamilton from team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who finished just under half a second behind the defending champion.
In cool conditions Mercedes looked comfortably in control, with Hamilton making steady improvements throughout the session as track conditions improved. The Briton eventually found a sweet spot with the track to post a best time of 1:33.999s. He might have improved again but a spin at Turn 11 on his next run ended that possibility.
With Bottas third, Daniel Ricciardo took fourth place in the session 0.538s down on Hamilton, with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen fifth. The Ducthman had a nervous moment, however, when he spun off into the gravel in the final corner as he was powering up for his first quick lao on ultrasofts. After consulting with his engineer and reporting a flatspot on his tyhres he still continued the run but ended up 0.015s behind the Australian.
Sebastian Vettel finished the session in sixth place and the last man with a second of Hamilton’s time. The German also used ultrasofts but a muted session left him half a second behind his own team-mate, Räikkönen.
Beyond the top three three teams Haas were best with Kevin Magnussen using ultrasofts to finish just over three tenths behind Vettel and more than four tenths of a second in front of Carlos Sainz’s Renault. The Spaniard set his best time on soft tyres, however.
Magnussen’s team-mate Romain Grosjean finished ninth, while the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, who also used soft tyres, took tenth spot.
2018 Chinese Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22 1:33.999
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 14 1:34.358 0.359
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 28 1:34.457 0.458
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 22 1:34.537 0.538
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 22 1:34.668 0.669
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 18 1:34.861 0.862
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 21 1:35.178 1.179
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 23 1:35.616 1.617
9 Romain Grosjean Haas 21 1:35.718 1.719
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 18 1:35.800 1.801
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 21 1:36.037 2.038
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 29 1:36.044 2.045
13 Sergio Perez Force India 28 1:36.051 2.052
14 Esteban Ocon Force India 32 1:36.351 2.352
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 31 1:36.691 2.692
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 23 1:36.715 2.716
17 Charles Leclerc Sauber 23 1:36.723 2.724
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 25 1:36.756 2.757
19 Marcus Ericsson