Hamilton dominates Friday practice in China, Raikkonen second

Lewis Hamilton has dominated Friday practice for the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The Mercedes driver was not without challenge though, as the top four in Practice 2 all closed to within one tenth of a second of the Brit’s time (1:33482s).

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was the closest with the Finn proving second quickest ahead of Valtteri Bottas, emulating the top three from a windy Practice 1 earlier in the day.

Sebastian Vettel finished up fourth fastest in the other Ferrari, ahead of Max Verstappen who was the top Red Bull driver with Daniel Ricciardo down in ninth.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was sixth quickest, followed by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso who rounded out the top ten.

Bottas led the early running ahead of Verstappen, before Hamilton went straight to the top on a 1:34.179s with the soft compound tyre.

A quick lap from Vettel saw the German slot into third on the medium tyre, 0.2s off the pace of Hamilton, just as teams began qualifying simulations.

Raikkonen was the first to improve, going fastest on the soft compound with a 1:34.063s before Mercedes sent Hamilton back out on track on the ultrasoft rubber, with the Brit returning to the top on a 1:33.482s, beating his previous benchmark time, a 1:33.999s set in the opening session.

Bottas went quicker on the ultrasofts as well, moving up into second, though the compound, which is the softest available for the weekend appeared to only be durable for one fast lap.

Also running on the ultrasoft tyre, Vettel and Verstappen both improved to third and fourth respectively, while Raikkonen moved within 0.007s of Hamilton and up into second as the long runs kicked off at the close of the first 30 minutes.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren grounded to a halt in the closing stages of the session just after exiting the pits, with the Belgium driver reporting a loose wheel as the stewards conduct an investigation into what appears to be an unsafe release.

It was the rain which started falling in the final 10 minutes though that brought an end to proceedings as track conditions became slippery, not without some teams venturing out on intermediate tyres in the wet conditions.

Sergio Perez was the best of the Force Indias in 11th ahead of Pierre Gasly in 12th and a stationary Vandoorne 14th.

Sergey Sirotkin led the Williams charge in 16th, while Marcus Ericsson was the first of the Sauber’s in 17th.

Formula 1 returns to the circuit on Saturday for Practice 3 at 13:00 AEST.