So far so good for McLaren

McLaren-Mercedes got its Chinese Grand Prix campaign off to a solid start on Friday with drivers Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard setting the third and fourth quickest times respectively in the first two practice sessions of the weekend

So far so good for McLaren

The team have reverted to the old-style low and narrow nose on the MP4-19B this weekend to suit the medium- to high-downforce Shanghai circuit. Also of benefit have been the Michelin tyres, which have proved to be up to speed on the 'green' circuit already. The Bridgestone tyres have traditionally fared better on the new asphalt while the Michelins tend to improve as more rubber is laid down.

"We did what we meant to do today and the car's performance is good, so I'm pretty satisfied," Raikkonen said. "Our tyres seemed to be working well, which is crucial. Obviously we had an idea of set-up before we arrived and whilst we did make a few changes we should be in a good shape.

"The circuit is interesting and the first two corners are particularly challenging. The first corner was a little bit slippery but the more we ran the less of a problem that became. We will see in the race where the real overtaking opportunities are, and I'm already looking forward to it."

Coulthard refused to get carried away with the day's times, but he had no problem enthusing about the new circuit.

"It was a good day today," the Scot said. "We completed our tyre evaluation and the pre-planned programme, but as always we shouldn't read too much into the times. This is quite a challenging and interesting circuit especially the first section with the tightening of corner one which despite being slow is very technically demanding.

"You have to be careful with your rear tyres here because you generate a lot of mechanical grip coming out of the slow corners. All in all it's an impressive facility and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Raikkonen and Coulthard covered just 41 laps between them, but team boss Ron Dennis said the squad's simulation programme had worked extremely accurately so the drivers had no need to notch up the miles.

Team boss Ron Dennis added: "A wonderful facility with a challenging circuit. We are particularly pleased with the simulation work done by the engineers which has allowed us to come to grips with the circuit after only a few laps. Clearly the lap times will drop as the track develops grip. However so far so good and we look forward to the rest of the weekend."

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