Lewis Hamilton has kicked off his Chinese Grand Prix weekend in style by topping the first free practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit on Friday.
The defending Formula 1 world champion posted a fastest lap time of 1:39.033 to finish half a second clear of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets as the German team looks to bounce back in China this weekend.
Following Sebastian Vettel’s shock win for Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago, both Hamilton and Mercedes wanted to start as they meant to go on in practice on Friday.
However, a number of drivers struggled for grip at times during FP1, with both Hamilton and Rosberg going off the road on a relatively green circuit.
Carlos Sainz Jr. also had a spin at the first corner, whilst Jolyon Palmer’s debut in a grand prix weekend session was not without its problems as he too spun in the Lotus. All of the drivers did manage to recover, though, with the session going by uninterrupted.
Ferrari’s bid to continue its form from Malaysia fell flat in FP1 as Vettel finished 1.1 seconds down on Hamilton in third place, although he was five-tenths of a second clear of teammate Kimi Raikkonen in fourth.
Felipe Nasr finished an excellent fifth for Sauber, whilst the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat also appeared to show signs of progress by posting times good enough for sixth and seven on the final timesheets.
Manor also made a big step forwards by getting both of its cars out on track simultaneously for the first time in 2015. However, both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will be hoping to improve on a gap of 3.2 seconds to the rest of the field in FP2 later today.
For now though, Mercedes appears to be resuming normal service, and first blood has unquestionably gone to Hamilton in China.
Join us for live coverage of the second free practice session on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2a ET today.