Hamilton dominates opening practice in Shanghai

Hamilton should dominate this weekend.
Hamilton should dominate this weekend.

Mercedes looked in confident mood in China on Friday morning, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finishing first and third. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen split them in the times, but did so on the quickest ultrasoft tire – while the Mercedes cars used much harder tires

Hamilton had a convincing three-tenths' advantage over Raikkonen, and four-tenths over team mate Bottas. Also right in the mix, the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen – both on the ultrasofts – were next up, followed by the second Ferrari of championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Both Haas drivers again looked good, Kevin Magnussen seventh and Romain Grosjean ninth, while the Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten in eighth and tenth respectively. Like Mercedes, Renault did not use the ultrasoft tires.

It was a busy start to the session, the teams no doubt aware that rain could be on the way. Williams' Lance Stroll set the first time just five minutes in, but it was shortly before the half-hour mark that Hamilton showed his and Mercedes' hand.

Though there was light drizzle at times, the rain never really materialized. The bigger problem was the gusting wind, which was upsetting cars at various points of the circuit, in particular Turns 6 and 16.

Verstappen had a trip through the gravel in the final turn, Hamilton spun at Turn 11, and Vandoorne’s McLaren snapped into the gravel trap at Turn 10, the Belgian narrowly avoiding the barriers.

Though conditions weren't ideal, no one experienced any serious technical maladies, with every driver completing decent mileage. That will prove handy if the previously forecast rain does arrive in earnest for this afternoon's second session.

The question now is how much quicker can Mercedes go when they switch to Pirelli's quickest tire compound? Ferrari and their other rivals will be paying very close attention

Results

POS DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.999s 0.000s 22
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m34.358s 0.359s 14
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m34.457s 0.458s 28
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m34.537s 0.538s 22
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m34.668s 0.669s 22
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m34.861s 0.862s 18
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m35.178s 1.179s 21
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m35.616s 1.617s 23
9 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m35.718s 1.719s 21
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m35.800s 1.801s 18
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m36.037s 2.038s 21
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m36.044s 2.045s 29
13 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m36.051s 2.052s 28
14 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m36.351s 2.352s 32
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m36.691s 2.692s 31
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m36.715s 2.716s 23
17 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m36.723s 2.724s 23
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m36.756s 2.757s 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m36.909s 2.910s 21
20 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m37.277s 3.278s 28

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