Published: Sat, April 14, 2018

Hertfordshire's Lewis Hamilton dominates first Chinese F1 Grand Prix practice

Hertfordshire's Lewis Hamilton dominates first Chinese F1 Grand Prix practice

Sergey Sirotkin missed out on the first Q2 appearance of his career by 0.049s and will start 16th on the grid after setting a time 0.039s faster than Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, who will start 17th in China after finishing the Bahrain Grand Prix fourth two weeks ago.

It has been a good day. "We work very closely together, and Honda have worked very hard to come up with a reliable and competitive engine".

"We got through all the laps that we needed and got some good feedback about the auto", said Hamilton. "We've been progressing through all the sessions and we've got a good idea".

Both Mercedes drivers looked to have found pace in their Q2 runs, in which they and Ferrari completed their hot laps on the Soft tyres, with a view to Sunday's Grand Prix.

In the afternoon, the team focussed on the normal set-up correlation and longer runs in preparation for the weekend ahead. "But, it's good to see all the times so close".

"Well, I think something that happened in Australia can happen". It seemed extremely close again with them.

The result was a remarkable turnaround from Friday practice where Mercedes had held a slight edge in one-lap pace and a significant advantage in long-run pace. "The vehicle, even though it was quick, it wasn't easy to drive at all", the Finn said.

As both Mercedes appeared to struggle for grip, setting times slower than their personal bests from Friday practice, Vettel upped his pace by half a second to lead the session with a 1:33.018. "Hopefully [we can make] another step for tomorrow". I was just trying to overtake a vehicle.

"It's quite simple and easy to blame the younger driver", Verstappen said.

"I don't think it has anything to do with being smart". However, the auto is not yet where I want it to be. "We are still looking".

"In testing they looked a lot faster than they have done in the last two races".

Max Verstappen: "We spent a bit of time during the first session today working on the setup of the vehicle in order to understand it better". "We got through all the laps that we needed".

A late rain shower meant the session effectively ended 10 minutes early, although some drivers went out on intermediate tyres to get a feel for the track in slippery conditions.

Hamilton got the better of it and managed to finish third.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was only ninth fastest after making errors on his flying lap on the fastest ultra-soft tyres. "We need everyone in the team to be on it throughout the weekend because it's a joint effort". While F1 retirement is still probably two or three years off, he told me recently how he sees fashion design as the next chapter in his life.

"It has been a good day", said Hamilton, who has won the Chinese Grand Prix five times in his career.

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