Hamilton leads first session in China

Lewis Hamilton got his potentially decisive Chinese Grand Prix weekend off to an encouraging start by topping the first practice session in Shanghai

Hamilton leads first session in China

The McLaren driver's title rival Felipe Massa was second for Ferrari, but was 0.390 seconds slower than Hamilton, who could potentially wrap up the 2008 championship this weekend, but arrives at the circuit under pressure following the controversial incidents and penalties of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) completed the top four, with outside title contender Robert Kubica fifth for BMW ahead of the in-form Fernando Alonso (Renault).

After a very quiet start to the session, Raikkonen was the first of the major contenders to show his hand after 35 minutes, beating previous pace-setter Sebastien Bourdais by six tenths of a second, only to then spin at Turn 2 on his next lap.

The McLaren and Ferrari drivers then proceeded to swap the top spot repeatedly during a frantic 10 minutes which saw first Kovalainen, then Massa hit the front, before Raikkonen moved back ahead - but only for a few moments as Kovalainen also improved and returned to first position just after Raikkonen.

Hamilton took time to get up to speed, wasting one lap by running very wide over the run-off exiting Turn 13. But as the session hit its halfway point he produced a 1:36.044 with his first clean lap and moved to the head of the order.

Massa was still improving though, and two minutes later he usurped his title rival by 0.020 seconds.

That proved to be the final change of the first runs, but when the front-runners returned to the track 15 minutes later it was Hamilton who took charge. While his main rivals failed to improve their times, the championship leader found a further four tenths of a second and moved clear of the field with a 1:35.630 lap.

With the lead drivers all sticking to old tyres and relatively long runs in the closing minutes, Hamilton's time remained the benchmark through to the end of the morning.

Behind the top six, Kubica's teammate Nick Heidfeld took seventh, with Toro Rosso duo Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel eighth and 10th, sandwiching Nelson Piquet (Renault).

The Turn 11/12 chicane was the scene of most of the session's incidents, with both Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) having half-spins mid-corner - Trulli's leaving him briefly stuck on the grass until he found reverse and edged back onto the circuit. Honda's Rubens Barrichello also had a brief moment at this spot and bounced over the grass.

Piquet had an excursion through the pitlane gravel trap made famous by Hamilton's error in the 2007 race. Unlike Hamilton last year, though, Piquet was able to keep going through the gravel and return to his pit.

 Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:35.630 23 2. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:36.020 + 0.390 24 3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:36.052 + 0.422 23 4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:36.103 + 0.473 21 5. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:36.507 + 0.877 25 6. Alonso Renault (B) 1:36.661 + 1.031 25 7. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:37.040 + 1.410 23 8. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:37.070 + 1.440 32 9. Piquet Renault (B) 1:37.180 + 1.550 30 10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:37.278 + 1.648 25 11. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:37.491 + 1.861 26 12. Button Honda (B) 1:37.619 + 1.989 25 13. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:37.630 + 2.000 23 14. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:37.638 + 2.008 22 15. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:37.638 + 2.008 26 16. Glock Toyota (B) 1:37.664 + 2.034 29 17. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:37.827 + 2.197 28 18. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:38.219 + 2.589 24 19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:38.285 + 2.655 25 20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:38.479 + 2.849 26 All timing unofficial 
shares
comments
Hamilton to face scrutiny over driving

Previous article

Hamilton to face scrutiny over driving

Next article

Q & A with Abu Dhabi's Philippe Gurdjian

Q & A with Abu Dhabi's Philippe Gurdjian
Load comments
Hungarian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Hungarian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

This was race that showcased the best and worst of Formula 1, producing a first time winner and a memorable comeback to a podium finish. Avoiding trouble at the start and astute strategy calls were key to success, but where some drivers took full advantage, others made key errors that cost them dearly

The “heart-breaking” call that led to Ocon’s Hungarian GP triumph Plus

The “heart-breaking” call that led to Ocon’s Hungarian GP triumph

Set to restart the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix in second, Esteban Ocon had some doubts when he peeled into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for slicks. But this "heart-breaking" call was vindicated in spectacular fashion as the Alpine driver staved off race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel for a memorable maiden Formula 1 victory

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Plus

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Plus

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021