Rosberg leads Mercedes 1-2 in China first practice

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The first practice session of the Chinese Grand Prix features the same top four finishers as in Malaysia three weeks ago, but not in the same order.

In the opposite of how they finished in Malaysia, Mercedes was comfortably 1-2 with Red Bull 3-4, and in this session Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber ended with the upper hand against World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg dropped in laps at 1:36.904 and with 28 minutes remaining, the fastest time of the session at 1:36.717. The German, the defending race winner and polesitter in China, was the only driver to enter the 1:36 range.

Webber, his back against the wall in the face of the “Multi 21” scandal, ended nearly three tenths up on Vettel, but still 0.941 off the Mercedes pair. Vettel waited until half of the 90-minute session had elapsed before going out, and pitted with 10 minutes remaining for a front wing change.

Behind the top four, Fernando Alonso edged Jenson Button for best of the rest, but each were more than one second off Rosberg’s pace. Felipe Massa clocked in seventh in the second Ferrari.

Completing the top 10 were Adrian Sutil, Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta – Grosjean’s Lotus the meat in a Force India sandwich. Kimi Raikkonen, who failed to score in China a year ago, finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and more than two seconds off Rosberg’s pace.

Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez had minor off-and-ons in the session but nothing terminal. Gutierrez ended 18th, behind the rest of the midfielders, some 3.3 seconds off the pace and 0.7 behind Valtteri Bottas’ Williams a spot ahead of him.

Sergio Perez had a late off in the same spot as where Hamilton did in his inaugural Chinese GP appearance for McLaren in 2007. Perez got stuck in the gravel at pit in (see above video). He ended only 16th.

The Marussia and Caterhams were much further back – 5.2 seconds and change off Rosberg’s times. While Jules Bianchi’s leading the queue doesn’t surprise, Max Chilton got ahead of fellow rookie Giedo van der Garde, and the trio left Caterham’s Friday driver, local boy Ma Qing Hua, in the dust. Ma, who replaced Charles Pic, ended 6.8 seconds off the mark.

BMW confirms IMSA, WEC GTE line-ups for 2018

BMW Motorsport
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BMW has confirmed its driver line-ups for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship campaigns.

In an announcement made at its end-of-year Sports Trophy event on Friday night, BMW firmed up its roster across its factory WEC team and its customer RLL Racing IMSA squad.

Two of the 2018 BMW M8 GTEs will enter the WEC next year, joining a hotly-contested GTE-Pro class that already features Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Ford.

BMW factory drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Nick Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Martin Tomczyk will share the two cars across the 13-month ‘super season’.

The quartet will be joined by Tom Blomqvist, Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

In IMSA, the RLL Racing team will once again field Sims and John Edwards, who will be joined by the incoming Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn.

BMW also confirmed on Friday night that Tom Blomqvist would see out the Formula E season with its Andretti-affiliated team, having been benched for Kamui Kobayashi in Hong Kong.