Shanghai: Free Practice 1 & 2

Marbles are still an issue here, but by far a bigger concern might be the excessive smog and dust hanging around. Williams tweeted that at times it was hard to see the end of the pit lane. It’s filtered through that there is a cement factory nearby that could be chucking out the pollution, there’s sun out there somewhere but it can’t quite cut through. Local sources have informed Force India that in previous years surrounding factories had been shut down, this year they haven’t.

BBC reporter Ted Kravitz has been on the case of the missing tyres, 32 sets are impounded at customs which is something of a rarity. Apparently this is the third time in a row that this has occurred, “It’s not usually a problem in Formula 1.”

Finally, Lewis Hamilton is stirring the media pot when during an interview he dropped the bombshell that ‘loyalty is limited’. He’s been cultivated at McLaren since he was 6, and now it seems that one championship is not enough. A tough start to the season has been compounded by the strength of Sebastian Vettel, however it is early days and McLaren has comfortably secured two P2s while picking up a KERS advantage. This could very easily be a publicity stunt to gain a better deal from his home team, rumours of a 10 year deal are floating about, or be a tactic to garner interest from other teams. Would Red Bull want him after the ‘fizzy drinks company’ comment? Even with the excessive back-peddling. It’s doubtful that Ferrari would want to bring the nemisis of their star driver onto the books, or that Hamilton would want to go play in someone elses back yard.

Free Practice 1

  • Ferrari: As expected Friday’s practice session were all about testing potential upgrades. Alonso had a new front wing drenched in flow-vis paint.
  • Force India: Set up problems for di Resta see him land in the gravel.
  • Hispania: Have new aerodynamic parts on board in this session. Liuzzi stalled his car, but splits the Virgins and Karthikeyan comes last.
  • Lotus: Test driver Luiz Razia had a shaky start to the session when he had to nurse Jarno Trulli’s car back to the pits, with the left wing dragging along the track. Kovalainen earns himself a speeding fine.
  • McLaren: The team are trying out a flash new front wing and are slapping on the flow-vis to get the vital data back.
  • Mercedes: Jenson Button’s KERS is doing a Red Bull and stops working.
  • Red Bull: Word from the garage is that they are having another bash at KERS this weekend, no doubt to take advantage of the long straights. Sebastian Vettel tops the table, but ‘Kinky Kylie’ had a sneaky smoke which resulted in him having to swap engine covers to one with a larger cooling hole.
  • Renault: Initially kept the drivers in the garage to wait for the track to rubber in. The drivers swapped fortunes again, this time Nick Heidfeld hits the kerb and takes chunks off his car.
  • Sauber: Promising signs from Sergio Perez as he was about 2 seconds off the front runners.
  • Toro-Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo was in for Jaime Alguersuari for the first session.
  • Williams: Pastor Maldonado beached his car near the end of the session, and was forced to wait an age before being rescues by the marshalls.
  • Virgin: The team had to double check Timo Glock’s hydraulics, but assure it’s all looking good under the hood.

Top FP1 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:38.739
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:39.354
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:40.845

Read: Full Results

Free Practice 2:

  • Ferrari: The session for them now is focusing on tyre evaluations in preparations for qually. All teams are punishing them to see how far they can be pushed come race day. Alonso is in the pits with a hydraulic problem.
  • Force India: Di Resta’s car remained in the garage with a fuel pressure issue and consequently didn’t set a time. Sutil gets some decent times on the board with the soft tyres.
  • Hispania: Karthikeyan feels the wrath of Alonso (who had just nipped out after the hydraulic issue was resolved), following a questionable decision to pull in front of the Ferrari. Liuzzi gets some laps in with minutes to spare and pulls ahead of both Virgins.
  • Lotus: Razia’s off was due to a problem with suspension and was fixed in time for Trulli’s run.
  • McLaren: It’s revealed that Hamilton also had issues with his brakes in FP1 (Jenson had KERS) but both are fixed for FP2. They are running a new front wing, floor and exhaust system today.
  • Mercedes: Like Ferrari, they are testing their prime and option tyres. Mika Hakkinen has been spotted in the garage, doing some work for the team this week. Both drivers post respectable times on the prime tyre, showing that there might be pace in the car yet.
  • Red Bull: Both drivers start slow early on but ramp up the pace soon enough, Vettel goes fastest again.
  • Renault: Heidfeld’s car is back on track after a quick spruce up during lunch, but it soon returns in a similar state with part of his wing under the car.
  • Sauber: Solid work from both guys, with Kobayashi taking point ahead of Perez this time.
  • Toro-Rosso: Fairly quiet session until Alguersuari gets an angry gesture from Button, who thought the Spanish driver had stopped him getting a fast lap in.
  • Williams: Maldonado makes up for his mistake in FP1 and gets well ahead of Barrichello by the end of the day. Promising signs that will hopefully translate on Sunday.
  • Virgin: Glock suffers a problem on track and ends the day there. D’Ambrosio meets the gravel and the pair are the slowest on the track.

Top FP2 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:37.688
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:37.854
3 Jenson Button McLaren 1:37.935

 Read: Full Results

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