Vettel Leads the Way as F1’s 1000th Race Weekend Begins in China


Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of opening practice at China’s Shanghai International Circuit, as Formula 1 began preparations for its 1000thrace. 

The Ferrari driver beat five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton by two tenths of a second despite using a harder compound tyre than the Mercedes man. Third place in the session went to Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Four-time champion Vettel set his best time of session, a lap of 1:33.911 on the C3 compound chosen as the medium tyres for this weekend. Hamilton’s best lap of 1:34.118, a little over two tenths of a second off the Ferrari driver’s benchmark was posted while using the C4 compound nominated as this race’s soft tyres.

Leclerc also used the medium tyres to set his quickest lap of the 90-minute session. The Monegasque driver posted a time of 1:34.167 to finish 0.049s behind soft-shod Hamilton.

Max Verstappen set the fourth quickest time of the morning, using the soft tyre to finish the session 0.167s behind Leclerc. The Red Bull driver was over four tenths slower than Vettel, however, despite being a step softer on tyres. 

Championship leader Valtteri Bottas finished fifth with a time of 1:34.653 that left him almost eight tenths of a second off the pace but the Mercedes man then had more than half a second in hand over sixth-placed Daniel Ricciardo. 

The Renault driver was followed by Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull. The French driver was 1.5s down on Vettel’s benchmark but more painfully perhaps Gasly was almost 1.1s adrift off Red Bull team-mate Verstappen.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat finished in eighth place ahead of Lance Stroll of Racing Point and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

2019 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 19 1:33.911 
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21 1:34.118 0.207
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 21 1:34.167 0.256
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 20 1:34.334 0.423
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 23 1:34.653 0.742
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 23 1:35.239 1.328
7 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 23 1:35.428 1.517
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 24 1:35.447 1.536
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point 25 1:35.466 1.555
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 24 1:35.507 1.596
11Kevin Magnussen Haas 25 1:35.517 1.606
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 22 1:35.591 1.680
13 Lando Norris McLaren 24 1:35.631 1.720
14 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 26 1:35.695 1.784
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 23 1:35.729 1.818
16 Spain Carlos Sainz McLaren 24 1:35.756 1.845
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point 24 1:35.820 1.909
18 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:36.847 2.936
19 George Russell Williams 29 1:37.619 3.708
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 2 

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