Chinese GP: Team-by-team summary, Friday
Lewis Hamilton could wrap up the championship in China, and he got his bid off to the best possible start by topping both 90-minute practice sessions. "While it is still difficult to tell at this early stage, we feel happy with our pace relative to the opposition," said team boss Ron Dennis. Heikki Kovalainen was fourth in the morning but slumped to 13th in Shanghai's second session.
Felipe Massa was 4 tenths off Hamilton's pace in the morning, but seven tenths too slow in the afternoon. "I think we are working in the right direction in terms of car setup," said the Brazilian. Birthday-boy Kimi Raikkonen's pace was very similar to his teammate on Friday.
Another positive display by Fernando Alonso's R28; competitive in the morning, and only outpaced by Hamilton in the afternoon. "We still have some things to improve," he warned. Nelson Piquet, who sampled Hamilton's famous Shanghai pitlane gravel trap at one stage but managed to drive through it, finished his day's running third quickest, just behind his teammate.
Jarno Trulli did not look quick at the start of the day, but after three hours of practice, he trailed Hamilton's pace by just 4 tenths. "Timo was struggling a bit more than Jarno," said engineer Dieter Gass, referring to Timo Glock's half-second afternoon deficit.
Robert Kubica was fifth quickest in the morning, but the Pole slumped to 12th in the afternoon, 2 tenths shy of his teammate Nick Heidfeld. "We haven't found the perfect balance for both cars," said technical boss Willy Rampf.
The highlight of Red Bull's Friday was Mark Webber's afternoon time, making him the fifth fastest driver of the day, while David Coulthard struggled.
Shanghai first-timer Sebastien Bourdais was the point-man for Toro Rosso on Friday, never below 8th quickest in both sessions -- although he did end the day on the back of a scooter after beaching his car in the gravel. His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, was 15th: "We are not where we want to be, although the timesheet makes it look worse than it is."
A low-profile day for the British team; 10th, 13th, 15th and 16th were the two driver's results from both sessions. "We are not quick enough," admitted Nico Rosberg.
FORCE INDIA-FERRARI AND HONDA
It is difficult to name the slowest team in Shanghai; the Force Indias brought up the rear in the morning, but in the afternoon the duo embarrassed the highly-financed Honda team. "Unfortunately nothing that we tried improved the car," said Jenson Button, who outperformed his veteran teammate Rubens Barrichello in both sessions.