Chinese GP: Fernando Alonso and Ferrari lead first Friday practice

Fernando Alonso set the early pace for the Ferrari Formula 1 team in the opening practice session for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix

Chinese GP: Fernando Alonso and Ferrari lead first Friday practice

The two-time world champion was 0.398 seconds faster than Nico Rosberg's Mercedes at a cool and misty Shanghai International Circuit.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest in his Red Bull ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren.

Nico Hulkenberg was fifth fastest for Force India, one place in front of the other McLaren of Kevin Magnussen.

The second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was eighth fastest overall, but his session ended a few minutes early after he reported a problem with the balance of his car.

Alonso's pace will have pleased Ferrari's new team principal Marco Mattiacci, who made his first appearance in his new role with the Scuderia this morning.

There was less joy on the other side of the garage as Alonso's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen could only manage a single installation lap after he suffered problems with the front of his car.

As ever the first practice session of the weekend was characterised by low grip and many drivers struggled with locking brakes. A number of teams were also trailing new parts - including Mercedes, which has arrived in China with a new front wing.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez did not emerge from his garage until an hour into the session after he suffered a malfunction his clutch. Jules Bianchi had a fuel system problem following his installation lap and sat out nearly all of the 90 minutes before joining for a brief late run.

There was early drama for Pastor Maldonado when he spun his Lotus at Turn 9 just 10 minutes into the session. He appeared to be looking down to make an adjustment on his steering wheel as he lost control.

Rookie Daniil Kvyat was another to leave the track, when he made a small mistake and spun at Turn 1 and also Turn 14.

Williams ran its test and reserve driver Felipe Nasr in place of Valtteri Bottas for this session and he finished with the 13th fastest time.

Sauber also used one of its test roster, with Giedo van der Garde standing in for Adrian Sutil.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1m39.783s           20
 2.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1m40.181s  +0.398s  16
 3.  Daniel Ricciardo     Red Bull-Renault      1m40.772s  +0.989s  23
 4.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1m40.970s  +1.187s  23
 5.  Nico Hulkenberg      Force India-Mercedes  1m41.175s  +1.392s  16
 6.  Kevin Magnussen      McLaren-Mercedes      1m41.366s  +1.583s  20
 7.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Renault    1m41.505s  +1.722s  26
 8.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1m41.560s  +1.777s  9
 9.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1m41.629s  +1.846s  19
10.  Felipe Massa         Williams-Mercedes     1m41.699s  +1.916s  14
11.  Daniil Kvyat         Toro Rosso-Renault    1m41.977s  +2.194s  23
12.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1m42.090s  +2.307s  24
13.  Felipe Nasr          Williams-Mercedes     1m42.265s  +2.482s  13
14.  Giedo van der Garde  Sauber-Ferrari        1m42.615s  +2.832s  16
15.  Sergio Perez         Force India-Mercedes  1m42.733s  +2.950s  13
16.  Pastor Maldonado     Lotus-Renault         1m43.731s  +3.948s  22
17.  Kamui Kobayashi      Caterham-Renault      1m44.038s  +4.255s  16
18.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1m44.162s  +4.379s  17
19.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Ferrari      1m44.270s  +4.487s  7
20.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Ferrari      1m44.782s  +4.999s  20
21.  Marcus Ericsson      Caterham-Renault      1m44.835s  +5.052s  22
22.  Kimi Raikkonen       Ferrari                                   1
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