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Button fastest in first practice

Jenson Button, McLaren, China 2010Jenson Button set the early pace for McLaren in first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, but it was Sebastien Buemi who ended the session counting his blessings after surviving one of the most bizarre accidents in modern Formula 1 history.

With 75 minutes of the session gone, the Swiss driver crashed at the end of the Shanghai circuit's long back straight when his front suspension appeared to shatter in the braking zone and both his front wheels simultaneously flew off his Scuderia Toro Rosso car.

Buemi's machine then tobogganed off into the gravel trap where it came to rest - having unsurprisingly caused a red flag period.

STR sensibly kept Jaime Alguersuari's sister car in the garage for the rest of FP1 as the team began its investigation into the incident.

Button's time of 1m36.677s was set halfway through the 90 minutes as the Australian Grand Prix winner took full advantage of the extra straightline speed afforded to him by his McLaren F-duct.

For a while it was a McLaren 1-2 at the top of the order, with Lewis Hamilton two tenths behind until Nico Rosberg split the pair with his Mercedes to lap just 0.071s slower than Button prior to Buemi's shunt.

Hamilton eventually ended up third having improved his time to a 1m36.775s.

Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest after setting his time when the track re-opened to move ahead of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.

Vitaly Petrov just missed out on sixth position as the chequered flag came out when his Renault team-mate Robert Kubica stole his thunder with a 1m37.601s.

Mark Webber was eighth fastest ahead of Adrian Sutil and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

The only other significant incident in the session happened when former world championship leader Fernando Alonso pulled off the circuit on the exit of Turn 6 with what appeared to be another engine failure - flames licking from the exhaust ports on the Ferrari. The Spaniard had yet to set a time in the session.

Pos Driver          Team                     Time       Gap    Laps
 1. Button          McLaren-Mercedes         1m36.677s           15
 2. Rosberg         Mercedes                 1m36.748s  +0.071   17
 3. Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes         1m36.775s  +0.098   19
 4. Schumacher      Mercedes                 1m37.509s  +0.832   14
 5. Vettel          Red Bull-Renault         1m37.601s  +0.924   20
 6. Kubica          Renault                  1m37.716s  +1.039   17
 7. Petrov          Renault                  1m37.745s  +1.068   25
 8. Webber          Red Bull-Renault         1m37.980s  +1.303   17
 9. Sutil           Force India-Mercedes     1m38.008s  +1.331   13
10. Massa           Ferrari                  1m38.098s  +1.421   19
11. Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari       1m38.161s  +1.484   19
12. Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari           1m38.375s  +1.698   21
13. de la Rosa      Sauber-Ferrari           1m38.421s  +1.744   19
14. Hulkenberg      Williams-Cosworth        1m38.569s  +1.892   20
15. di Resta        Force India-Mercedes     1m38.618s  +1.941   26
16. Barrichello     Williams-Cosworth        1m38.678s  +2.001   17
17. Buemi           Toro Rosso-Ferrari       1m39.939s  +3.262    5
18. Trulli          Lotus-Cosworth           1m41.531s  +4.854   22
19. Kovalainen      Lotus-Cosworth           1m41.779s  +5.102   23
20. Glock           Virgin-Cosworth          1m41.830s  +5.153   20
21. di Grassi       Virgin-Cosworth          1m42.181s  +5.504   27
22. Senna           HRT-Cosworth             1m43.875s  +7.198   23
23. Chandhok        HRT-Cosworth             1m43.949s  +7.272   20
24. Alonso          Ferrari                  no time              6

All Timing Unofficial
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Webber quickest in final China practice
Hamilton keeps McLaren on top in China