Hamilton fastest in wet/dry first session in China

By on Friday, April 13, 2012

Lewis Hamilton

After a lengthy three week break, the F1 circus has reconvened at the Shanghai International Circuit in China for the third round of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship. And as the first practice session of the weekend got underway, gray skies and a damp track met the drivers’ as they completed their installation laps.

The Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen was first out, followed by the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and the second Caterham of Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who was one of three reserve drivers’ taking to the track for the first practice session. The other two reserve drivers’ was the Force India of Jules Bianchi and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

With the session starting in damp and misty conditions, it was a slow start to the morning as many drivers’ completed only installation laps for the first 30 minutes of the session. Lewis Hamilton took to the track with a large sensor fitted to his diffusor, with McLaren using the free testing time to gather further data for the team.

Eventually it was the Red Bull of Mark Webber who set the first timed lap of the session, with a 01:44.542 as further rain began to fall around the first sector of the track. This failed to deter the Australian driver from the track, as Webber continued to improve with a 01:40.647 and then a 01:39.558 as more cars’ began taking to the track.

As the rain began to get more persistent, both the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado had slight moments as they struggled to find grip on the track. The Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen suffered yet another unfortunate session, as the 2007 World Champion had his session prematurely ended by his team with a suspected DRS issue on the car.

After struggling to find grip on the dampening Shanghai International Circuit, Pastor Maldonado finally set an impressive time and went 2nd with a 01:40.540. The session then once again fell quiet as many drivers’ remained in the comfort of their garages as the rain intensified along with a thick mist, deterring the drivers’ from venturing out on track.

However, as the session entered its final minutes, the majority of the field finally took to the track. This resulted in some quick times finally appearing, firstly from 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher who set a 01:39.318, before the Red Bull of Mark Webber returned to the top with a 01:38.977.

Lewis Hamilton, who will most likely suffer a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, also began to set commanding lap times, initially going 3rd with a 01:39.114 before flying to the top with a 01:38.146.

With the checkered flag now out bringing the session to a close, Nico Rosberg was able to sneak to the top of the timing sheets for only a few seconds before the 2008 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, retook the top spot with a 01:37.106.

The mixed conditions are apparently set to stay at the Shanghai International Circuit all weekend, which could see an exciting weekend of racing ahead. The teams’ will return to the track later on in the day for the second practice session.

P    Name           Best        Gap Sec 1 Sec 2 Sec 3 Laps
1  4 L. HAMILTON    1:37.106         25.6  29.1  42.2    7
2  8 N. ROSBERG     1:38.116  1.010  25.9  29.4  42.8   14
3  7 M. SCHUMACHER  1:38.316  1.210  26.1  29.5  42.6   14
4 15 S. PEREZ       1:38.584  1.478  26.1  29.5  42.9   13
5 14 K. KOBAYASHI   1:38.911  1.805  26.1  29.4  43.2   12
6  2 M. WEBBER      1:38.977  1.871  26.0  29.4  42.8   15
7  1 S. VETTEL      1:39.198  2.092  26.1  29.6  43.4   12
8  3 J. BUTTON      1:39.199  2.093  26.0  29.8  43.2    6
9 16 D. RICCIARDO   1:39.748  2.642  26.2  29.9  43.2   16
10 17 J. VERGNE      1:39.768  2.662  26.3  30.0  43.3   14
11  5 F. ALONSO      1:40.056  2.950  26.3  30.0  43.5   14
12  6 F. MASSA       1:40.153  3.047  26.3  30.1  43.6   14
13 19 V. BOTTAS      1:40.298  3.192  26.0  30.0  43.8    8
14 12 N. HULKENBERG  1:40.328  3.222  26.2  30.3  43.5   13
15 18 P. MALDONADO   1:40.540  3.434  26.5  30.2  43.2   12
16 20 H. KOVALAINEN  1:41.071  3.965  26.7  30.6  43.6   14
17 10 R. GROSJEAN    1:41.204  4.098  26.5  30.7  43.9   14
18 24 T. GLOCK       1:42.330  5.224  26.7  30.8  44.5   14
19 21 G. VAN DER GAR 1:42.521  5.415  26.7  31.2  44.5   11
20 11 J. BIANCHI     1:44.118  7.012  27.1  31.9  44.9    8
21 22 P. DE LA ROSA  1:44.227  7.121  26.9  31.1  45.0   10
22 25 C. PIC         1:44.500  7.394  27.5  31.6  45.2   15
23 23 N. KARTHIKEYAN 1:47.204 10.098  27.8  32.2  47.1   12
24  9 K. RAIKKONEN   1:50.465 13.359  28.5  33.8  47.9   11


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