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After Bahrain
Championship Standings:
Drivers
1 Lewis Hamilton 93
2 Nico Rosberg 66
3 Sebastian Vettel 65
4 Kimi Raikkonen 42
5 Filipe Massa 31
6 Valterri Bottas 30
7 Daniel Ricciardo 19
8 Felipe Nasr 14
9 Roman Grosjean 12
10 Max Verstappen 6
11 Nico Hulkenberg 6
12 Carlos Sainz 6
13 Sergio Perez 5
14 Marcus Ericsson 5
15 Daniil Kvyat 4
16 Fernando Alonso 0
17 Pastor Maldonado 0
18 Jenson Button 0
19 Roberto Merhi 0
20 Will Stevens 0

Constructors
1 Mercedes 159
2 Ferrari 107
3 Williams 61
4 Red Bull Racing 23
5 Sauber 19
6 Lotus 12
7 Toto Rosso 12
8 Force India 11
9 McLaren 0
10 Marussia 0
Chinese GP: Button tops Friday practice

by Mark J. Cipolloni
Friday, April 17, 2009

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Jenson Button
Brawn GP's Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello look set to repeat their performance in the first to F1 races of the year this weekend in Shanghai.  Button finished Friday on top of the timesheets and Rubens in third position just two-tenths behind.

"The balance of the car really improved over the last couple of runs today after we had been struggling a little to find the right set-up early on. We completed a great deal of work with the two very different tire compounds to establish what condition they would be in after longer runs. There seemed to be a lot of traffic on track today so my main concern was finding some clear air. It was a useful first day of running but we still have some work to do tomorrow to be happy with the balance for qualifying," said Button.

"Another positive Friday and we achieved some good work today which will set us up well going into the weekend. Our main focus was on the tires and evaluating the best way of looking after the softer option tire and it was very useful to find out what the tires are capable of. We tried various things but I did struggle for grip with my last set of tires this afternoon. There are a lot of marbles on the track at the moment but it should clean up going into the weekend.," said Barrichello. zzzz

After topping the morning timesheets, Lewis Hamilton's 2009 form reverted to more familiar territory as the second 90 minutes of free practice was run on Friday afternoon.

The reigning world champion - although quicker than his top morning time - slipped to thirteenth place, a couple of tenths off the pace of his McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen, and more than a second away from Jenson Button's best.

“The car instantly felt a bit better. I can definitely feel more stability and downforce from the front," said Hamilton.  "We’ve definitely made a step forward for this race. The car feels much stronger through the corners and I think we’ve got a very positive baseline for the rest of the weekend. My first run on the options felt quite consistent. The drop-off definitely feels manageable. This was a good day, although we still need to work on MP4-24’s medium- and high-speed balance.”

The other top F1 teams, however, were faring no better: both Ferraris were outside the top eleven, the Renaults outside the top fifteenth, and the BMWs languishing among the backmarkers.

BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica has been using KERS for the first time this season in Shanghai practice, but reports that Alonso's Renault may already be fitted with a 'double diffuser' may have been premature.

“We completed our standard Friday program and tried to learn more about the nature of the track and to understand the tire compounds,” 17th placed Kubica said. “While the option tires are quite fragile, it is difficult to make the prime tire work. Additionally, this was the first time I was running KERS at a Grand Prix weekend. There were a lot of tests to do. Now we have to check and evaluate the data.”

“As is normal for us on Fridays we focused on tire evaluation for the race,” the German said. “They do not really work as we would like them to. We now have to try to improve the balance of the car.”

At the other end of the timesheets, Williams' Nico Rosberg seemed to have recaptured his Australia-Malaysia practice form by only narrowly missing the top time, while the Red Bulls and Toyotas also look quick.

It hovered around a mild 20 degrees in China on Friday, with light showers scheduled for Sunday.

Practice 2 Results

Pos

Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:35.679 +0.000 35
2. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:35.704 +0.025 36
3. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:35.881 +0.202 35
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:36.105 +0.426 32
5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:36.167 +0.488 22
6. Trulli Toyota 1:36.217 +0.538 42
7. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:36.377 +0.698 32
8. Glock Toyota 1:36.548 +0.869 40
9. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.674 +0.995 34
10. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.800 +1.121 34
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:36.829 +1.150 30
12. Massa Ferrari 1:36.847 +1.168 34
13. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.941 +1.262 28
14. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.054 +1.375 33
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:37.219 +1.540 34
16. Piquet Renault 1:37.273 +1.594 36
17. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:37.491 +1.812 34
18. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:37.544 +1.865 28
19. Alonso Renault 1:37.638 +1.959 28
20. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:37.750 +2.071 31

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