Formula 1

Chinese FP1+2 Promise A Good Quali Battle

The fight for pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix looks to be a close battle between Ferrari and Mercedes after Free Practice 1 and 2 today.

The fight for pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix looks to be a close battle between Ferrari and Mercedes after Free Practice 1 and 2 today.

Mercedes Nico Rosberg took early honours, leading home a Mercedes 1-2 in FP1, with a time of 1:38.037. Once again showing off the great start to the season he’s having. His team mate Lewis Hamilton was just over a tenth of a second shy of beating Rosberg round the challenging Shanghai circuit on a 1:38.183. Overall both drivers seemed happy with their times in FP1. Though regardless if he qualifies on pole. Hamilton will start no higher that sixth on the grid due to a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

FP1 was overshadowed however by two red flags due to left rear tyre issues. The first red flag was due to Felipe Massa’s Williams. Massa spun off in turn six as his left rear tyre came loose, with bits of debris being thrown from the car onto the track, resulting in the first red flag. The Brazilian got the car back to the pits and the team got the car ready for another run again, only for the same left rear tyre to fail again on a second run. He wasn’t the only driver to suffer left rear issues in FP1. Moments after Massa’s second tyre failure, Renault’s Kevin Magnussen could also be seen limping back to the pits with the left rear tyre totally shredded.

Pirelli have been quick to investigate the issues as well as the teams affected, and have confirmed the failures on the Williams and Renault are not related. There is no word yet on what caused Magnussen’s failure, though it is believed to be linked to a rear suspension issue. According to Pirelli’s investigations Massa’s issues were caused by an “air loss connected to technical trouble,” which Williams confirmed. When asked about it after FP2 Massa remained positive and was quick to highlight the issue had been found and sorted out.

“We made a modification and we understood the problem. If we didn’t know the problem it would have an effect. but the team understand so I trust them. We can have a completely different day tomorrow. We need to be ready for everything. We can have a lot of different sessions.”

Elsewhere in FP1 Fernando Alonso is back in the car after sitting out the Bahrain Grand Prix due to a fractured rib he sustained during his crash in Australia. Alonso managed to set the 12th fastest time of the session, with team mate Jenson Button finishing 8th.

In FP2 it was the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen setting the pace, with a 1:36.896 on the supersoft tyres. He led home team mate Sebastian Vettel who, like Hamilton, was just over a tenth slower than his team mate on a 1:37.005. The pace of the Ferrari’s on their qualifying runs has led many to suspect they could challenge the Mercedes here for pole position tomorrow. Though when asked about it, Vettel was quick to downplay any talk of a pole position shootout between the two teams.

“It depends what the others are doing, but I think if we get everything right we could be closer. But then it is only Friday today so I wouldn’t stress, I wouldn’t put too much importance in the times today.” He said.

While Mercedes and Ferrari streaked ahead in FP2 it was left to the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo to set the fifth fastest time, cementing Red Bull’s challenge to be the third-quickest team on the grid. Though it should be noted Williams often hide the pace of their car in Friday Free Practices, so it may be a closer battle for the best of the rest tomorrow in FP3 and Qualifying. The Williams drivers trailed home in 10th and 14th respectively, after a trying FP1.

Just behind Riccardo was Max Verstappen in the Toro Rosso, who was followed closely by the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, and the other Toro Rosso of his team mate, Carlos Sainz. With Sergio Perez completing the Toro Rosso/Force India fight. And with only 3 tenths of a second separating Verstappen from Perez the fight between Toro Rosso and Force India is definitely one to watch this weekend.

With both Free practice sessions over it hard to predict just who will be on top come qualifying tomorrow, which is supposed to be rain affected according to the weather. All we do know is there was a huge cheer in the Overtake Office when we realised it would be back to the old style 2015 shoot-out. About time too!

Free Practice 1 Results
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:38.037
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:38.183
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:38.665
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:39.061
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:39.155
6. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:39.625
7. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:39.676
8. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:39.974
9. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:40.169
10. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:40.232
11. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:40.347
12. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:40.538
13. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:40.828
14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:41.358
15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:41.393
16. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:41.614
17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:41.816
18. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:42.907
19. Felipe Nasr, Sauber 1:42.980
20. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, No time set
21. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, No time set
22. Felipe Massa, Williams, No time set

Free Practice 2 Results

1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:36.896
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:37.005
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:37.133
4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:37.329
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:38.143
6. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:38.268
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India. 1:38.527
8. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:38.542
9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:38.569
10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:38.723
11. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:38.728
12. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:38.828
13. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:39.178
14. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:39.214
15. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:39.774
16. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:39.890
17. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:39.941
18. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:39.979
19. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:40.550
20. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:41.066
21. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:42.954
22. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, No time

Feature Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari press release.

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