Mercedes fire early warning in China practice

Sport360 staff 10:43 10/04/2015
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On track: Nico Rosberg drives his car during the first practice session of the Chinese GP in Shanghai.

Mercedes fired an early warning to rivals Ferrari before the Chinese Grand Prix by dominating Friday’s morning practice, with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets in Shanghai.

The world champion clocked a fastest lap of one minute, 39.033 seconds, just over half a second quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg and 1.124 seconds faster than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

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Vettel stunned the dominant Mercedes to win in Malaysia two weeks ago but, as widely expected, normal service looked to have been resumed in far cooler conditions in China.

Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari was fourth quickest, half-a-second off Vettel.

Felipe Nasr crept above the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat to post the fifth fastest time, while struggling McLaren were once again well off the pace.

Jenson Button clocked 1:41.845 for 13th fastest while Fernando Alonso, whose decision to rejoin McLaren from Ferrari has come under scrutiny given the differing fortunes of the two teams, went 1:42.161 — only 17th on the timesheets.

Sparks flew as Hamilton roared out with a point to prove and the Briton quickly imposed himself after an early lock-up into the hairpin which forced him onto the run-off.

Hamilton skidded off at turn one towards the end of the session to dash hopes of improving his time, but he never looked seriously threatened once he had joined the fray.

Toro Rosso teenager Max Verstappen had a couple of hair-raising moments, going off at turn 14, but returned the 12th-fastest time of 1:41.575.

Mercedes won 16 of 19 races last year and turned this season’s opening race in Australia into another rout before Vettel upset the Silver Arrows in Sepang to end Ferrari’s 34-race winless streak.

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