Chinese GP, Practice One: Lewis Hamilton easily fastest despite spin

Lewis Hamilton set an impressive early pace in Practice One for the Chinese GP ahead of Mercedes’ bid to win their first race of the season this weekend.

The world champion, who trails Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 17 points after the season’s opening two rounds but has won in China a record five times, was the only driver to lap the vast Shanghai International Circuit in under one minute 34 seconds on a chilly and windy Friday morning.

Despite a later spin at Turn 11, Hamilton finished 0.359s ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen with the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in third, but 0.458s adrift.

Red Bull, aiming to make up for the frustration of what they believe was a lost shot at victory in Bahrain last Sunday, were next up with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

But Verstappen’s session included another mistake – a trip through the gravel at the final corner after he spun wide going over the kerb at the end of his out lap on ultrasoft tyres. And while the Dutchman did clock his best time of the session a lap later, the tyres would have been slightly damaged.

“He’s made a few little mistakes,” Red Bull chief Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the session. “Melbourne we saw one, last weekend… this weekend we need a clean weekend, almost a boring couple of sessions, qualifying and race – just to see what the potential of this car really is.”

Championship leader Vettel made a low-key start to the weekend and was only sixth, over 0.8s off Hamilton’s eye-catching pace.

“I wonder if he’s doing his homework for a very early stage for race-day, particularly as it could be raining later,” speculated Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson ahead of P2.

Kevin Magnussen, one of F1 2018’s early-star performers, was a strong seventh quickest, with team-mate Romain Grosjean ninth. The Renaults were next up, with Carlos Sainz placed eighth, but McLaren were two seconds off the ultimate pace despite using the quickest ultrasoft tyres.

Stoffel Vandoorne just about kept his McLaren out of the barriers when he slid off the road at Turn 10 and finished only 18th, six places behind team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Meanwhile, as in Bahrain qualifying last Saturday, a Williams propped up the order with the team’s tough start of the season not showing an immediate signs of changing in Practice One.

Chinese GP Practice One Timesheet Driver Team Time 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.999 2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:34.358 3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.457 4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.537 5. Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:34.668 6. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.861 7. Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:35.178 8. Carlos Sainz Renault 1:35.616 9. Romain Grosjean Haas 1:35.718 10. Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:35.800 11. Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:36.037 12. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:36.044 13. Sergio Perez Force India 1:36.051 14. Esteban Ocon Force India 1:36.351 15. Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:36.691 16. Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:36.715 17. Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:36.723 18. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:36.756 19. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:36.909 20. Lance Stroll Williams 1:37.277

Will Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make it three wins in a row or can Mercedes and Red Bull respond in Shanghai? Watch the Chinese GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Get Sky Sports F1.