Caterham dropped Charles Pic for Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua in free practice one of Ma’s home race. It was not an easy session for the hometown driver, who had several runs for HRT on Friday last year.
He ended with a best lap of 1:43.545 in 20 laps, 6.8 seconds off Nico Rosberg’s leading time in the Mercedes, 1:36.717 at the Shanghai International Circuit. More importantly, he was 1.5 seconds slower than Caterham teammate Giedo van der Garde.
Ma locked up at Turn 11 with 53 minutes remaining in the 90-minute session, and flat-spotted his only allocated set of tires.
Ma and Alexander Rossi, Caterham’s two reserve drivers, have the opportunity to drive in several Friday free practice sessions this year. Rossi takes van der Garde’s place in FP1 next race in Bahrain. Caterham’s race pair of Pic and rookie van der Garde have yet to beat Marussia rookie Jules Bianchi in a qualifying session this year.