Current World Championship leader Nico Rosberg topped the leaderboards in the first practice session at China earlier, lapping 0.1s faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton in the disruptive session, where there were two red flags.
However, it wasn’t a perfect session for team Mercedes as last year’s World Champion Lewis Hamilton spun out twice and teammate Rosberg finished with a power unit issue on his car.
Again, Ferrari were Mercedes’ main rivals, with Sebastian Vettel finishing third fastest after the two Mercedes, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
However, only 25 minutes into the session, the red flag was waved after Williams driver Felipe Massa suffered a rear left tyre malfunction and spun in his approach to turn 6, bringing gravel and debris onto the track. Massa did manage to return to the track later on during the session, only to suffer another failure on the same tyre, moments before Renault’s Kevin Magnussen also suffered from a rear left tyre defeat, which brought out the red flag for the second time that session.
Massa was one of two drivers that were unable to set a time in the 90 minute practice session, the other being Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez who suffered from an electrical issue with his car.
The two red flags held up the rest of the field, however they eventually managed to have a final 8 minutes after the commotion had finished, with the majority of drivers switching to soft tyres.
Hamilton was the first one out on the soft tyres and set a time of 1m 38.183s, however teammate Nico Rosberg went immediately faster by 0.146 seconds, as a poor middle sector cost Hamilton the time he was hoping for.
Vettel used the new soft tyres get into third place, with teammate Raikkonen stuck in-between the two Red Bull’s- Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
Fernando Alonso also drove in the practice session, after getting the all clear from the FIA medical team following his crash at Melbourne after having to sit out at Bahrain. He completed 11 laps, coming 12th overall. After the session, he underwent further medical check to ensure that he was able to drive in the Grand Prix, and received the all-clear, meaning that he will be driving this weekend.
In the second session of the day, Ferrari’s fighting spirit came through as they managed to triumph over chief rivals Mercedes, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel finishing 1-2, with Raikkonen edging ahead of his teammate by 0.1s.
Raikkonen’s leading time came forty minutes into the session, after most of the drivers had switched to super soft tyres. Nico Rosberg, who triumphed in the first session, was only able to get within 0.237s of Raikkonen, finishing third fastest, with teammate Lewis Hamilton behind him again, finishing in fourth. Red Bull driver Daniel Riccardo finished fifth, after the Ferrari’s and Mercedes’, but was 1.2s slower than Raikkonen’s benchmark time.
After all the drama that took place in the first session, everyone expected there to be a quiet second session, however those hopes were dashed as Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez ran into more problems as the brakes on his car caught on fire, causing him to have to pit, unable to return to the track for the rest of the session. Despite this, his total of four laps was more than Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was able to manage, spending the whole session in the garage as his team continued to investigate into what happened in FP1 to cause his tyre failure.
The session began with McLaren’s Jenson Button setting the fastest time, however this spell of good luck did not last long, as Rosberg came onto the track, setting a faster time of 1m 37.133s on his supersoft tyres. Again, teammate Hamilton was stuck as number two at Mercedes, behind his teammate with a time of 1m 37.329s. Shortly after Hamilton’s lap, Vettel managed to set the fastest time of 1m 37.005s, shortly followed by a timesheet-topping time by teammate Raikkonen, with a time of 1m 36. 869s, despite not a particularly tidy lap.
Behind the top four, Ricciardo managed to remain in fifth place, fending off Torro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, however it was close, with 1 second splitting Ricciardo and his teammate Kvyat, who was in 13th.