Chinese GP: Nico Rosberg and Mercedes dominate practice one

Nico Rosberg led team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes one-two in opening Chinese Grand Prix practice, as the squad returned to the scene of its first modern-era Formula 1 victory one year ago

Chinese GP: Nico Rosberg and Mercedes dominate practice one

Warring Red Bull duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were next up, but a second off the Mercedes' pace.

Mercedes took charge on the last lighter-fuel runs going into the final half-hour of the session.

Rosberg initially put in a 1m37.872s to knock Felipe Massa's Ferrari off the top spot.

This mark was then pipped by Webber, who went 0.2s faster just a minute later.

But Rosberg had more speed to come. Despite signs of tyre graining and being eight laps into a stint, he unleashed a 1m36.904s, backed off for a lap, then delivered the best lap of the morning with a 1m36.717s.

Mercedes then appeared to have superior pace on the race stint simulations in the final half-hour, although fuel load variations inevitably skew this picture.

Hamilton was ultimately 0.454s down on his team-mate, but 0.487s clear of Webber. Three tenths of a second split the two Red Bulls in third and fourth.

Jenson Button had been among the first to set a flying lap, albeit over half an hour into the session, and kept his McLaren near the top for a long while.

He ended up sixth, between the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Massa.

Button's team-mate Sergio Perez provided a bizarre end to the session when he crashed in the pitlane entry gravel trap, replicating the infamous incident that ended McLaren predecessor Hamilton's 2007 Chinese GP.

Adrian Sutil also had a stint in first place before ending up eighth, two places in front of Force India team-mate Paul di Resta. Romain Grosjean's Lotus split them.

The Frenchman's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen provided the session's other main incident when he ran wide at Turn 9 and spun back across the track. Raikkonen resumed without damage.

Sauber rookie Esteban Gutierrez also had an excursion, exploring the gravel at Turn 1.

Ex-HRT third driver Ma Qing Hua made his Caterham debut in Charles Pic's car at his home event. The GP2 racer was last, 1.5s off team-mate Giedo van der Garde.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car              Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1m36.717s            21
 2.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1m37.171s  + 0.454s  20
 3.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1m37.658s  + 0.941s  21
 4.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1m37.942s  + 1.225s  20
 5.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1m37.965s  + 1.248s  17
 6.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1m38.069s  + 1.352s  24
 7.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1m38.095s  + 1.378s  14
 8.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1m38.125s  + 1.408s  21
 9.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1m38.398s  + 1.681s  17
10.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1m38.561s  + 1.844s  15
11.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1m38.790s  + 2.073s  16
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m39.057s  + 2.340s  19
13.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1m39.158s  + 2.441s  22
14.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1m39.180s  + 2.463s  21
15.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m39.336s  + 2.619s  19
16.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1m39.360s  + 2.643s  20
17.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1m39.392s  + 2.675s  20
18.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1m40.032s  + 3.315s  22
19.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1m41.966s  + 5.249s  16
20.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1m42.056s  + 5.339s  18
21.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1m42.083s  + 5.366s  21
22.  Ma Qing Hua          Caterham-Renault      1m43.545s  + 6.828s  20

AUTOSPORT Chinese GP coverage:

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