Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2012

Hamilton ahead by a second in damp first practice

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2012Lewis Hamilton set a flying lap at the end of first practice to head the times by a full second.

The session got off to a slow start with no-one setting a time in the first half hour. Several drivers chose intermediate tyres for their installation laps as the track was damp at the start of the session.

Many teams spent the early laps doing aerodynamic testing. Hamilton appeared with a large array of sensors on the rear of his McLaren as they tested a new floor on the MP4-27, then did little running until the final minutes.

Fernando Alonso had a liberal coating of flow-vis paint on the rear wing of his Ferrari F2012 when he took to the track. Pastor Maldonado and Timo Glock also did fixed-speed runs along Shanghai’s long back straight.

Red Bull, meanwhile, were conducting back-to-back tests between two different exhaust solutions. Mark Webber set the early pace with a lap of 1’39.558.

But within a few minutes of the drivers setting the first times, the rain returned again, sending everyone back into the pits around the halfway mark.

The falling rain caught out several drivers, particularly at turn three. Romain Grosjean caught a slide in his Lotus while Felipe Massa understeered off in the Ferrari.

Alonso was first to return to the track with slightly more than half an hour left to run.

However it wasn’t until the final five minutes that the lap times started to improve. Webber lowered his best time but Hamilton moved the mark well beyond his reach when he returned to the track.

Nico Rosberg put in a late effort to go quickest with a 1’38.116, but was instantly demoted by Hamilton whose fastest effort was a second quicker.

The second Mercedes of Michael Schumacher was third ahead of the two Saubers.

Jenson Button ended the session eighth behind the Red Bulls after being delayed by traffic on his last lap. The Toro Rosso duo completed the top ten.

Kimi Raikkonen ended the session at the bottom of the times after experiencing problems with his DRS. He wasn’t the only driver – Vettel reported a similar problem on his Red Bull.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’37.106 7
2 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’38.116 1.010 14
3 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’38.316 1.210 14
4 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.584 1.478 13
5 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.911 1.805 12
6 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’38.977 1.871 15
7 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’39.198 2.092 12
8 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’39.199 2.093 6
9 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.748 2.642 16
10 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.768 2.662 14
11 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’40.056 2.950 14
12 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’40.153 3.047 14
13 19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’40.298 3.192 8
14 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’40.328 3.222 13
15 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’40.540 3.434 12
16 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’41.071 3.965 14
17 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’41.204 4.098 14
18 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.330 5.224 14
19 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’42.521 5.415 11
20 11 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1’44.118 7.012 8
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’44.227 7.121 10
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’44.500 7.394 15
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’47.204 10.098 12
24 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’50.465 13.359 11

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Hamilton ahead by a second in damp first practice”

  1. According to the SkyF1 graphic, it appears second place Rosberg was on INTERS when he sent his time.

    However I think all the times are mostly irrelevant since it was a drying track. Van Der Garde could have been fastest if he was last out there.

    What do you guys think about Vettel running the Jerez-test spec “old” exhaust layout?

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      13th April 2012, 5:15

      Maybe they had developed it further during the 3 weeks off. But the fact that both cars are using different solutions is a sure sign they are not sure on what they have yet. Although it could be driver preference. I did notice Christian Horner looking more than a little grumpy in the pitlane, possible as he knows they need dry running to really get some proper data to help with development.

      1. Yeah there were some new vanes and lines/etc on the exhaust of Vettel’s Jerez-spec car. I just cant get over how powerful Mac is looking, especially since they brought a huge sack of upgrades to this race. Surely theyre in it to win in a dry race, who could touch them?

  2. Hot damn, it’s like nothing can separate Vergne and Ricciardo. Nice to see that Felipe’s at least keeping up with ‘nando during practice.

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      13th April 2012, 5:17

      Not really, Fernando was on Inters and Massa slicks.

      1. There was a few drivers who were on dries but the timing seemed to think they were on inters and i think thats the case for ALO

        1. And Rosberg at the end, apparently.

  3. Nick.UK (@)
    13th April 2012, 5:16

    “Timo, do you need new underwear, or are you alright?”

  4. Ah, love it how these sessions can be a mixed bag sometimes. Sure McLaren is fast and Mercedes should also be fast, Lotus as well, if they keep it working and on track. Red Bull, hm, let’s see what Vettel does with exhaust layout for Saturday, but not looking too good.

    Alonso will be there, somewhere, in the race.

  5. Off-topic:

    How long should be an F1 car to accommodate Yap Ming?

    1. @jcost You mean Yao Ming the basketballer? I’d say another three feet.

  6. 1s is very comfortable but it’s hard to gauge it, especially given both Red Bull and Ferrari were testing extensively. Not to mention the track was drying as well.

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