F1 2016 Chinese Grand Prix: Hamilton ‘blown away’ in Shanghai
PUBLISHED: 11:53 15 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:53 15 April 2016
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was only fourth fastest in practice ahead of the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg with F1 fans ahead of the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix
A fan takes a selfie with Nico Rosberg at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Nico Rosberg with fans out in Shanghai for the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
British fans out in Shanghai for the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton with a young fan out in Shanghai ahead of the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
The 31-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire was outperformed by the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel and the Silver Arrows of Nico Rosberg in second practice at the Shanghai International Circuit today (Friday).
Rosberg topped the morning session in China with a lap of 1m 38.037s, with Hamilton just a tenth shy in P2 after recording a time of 1m 38.183s.
The German world championship leader ended the day with the third fastest time in the afternoon session, with Herts race ace Hamilton fourth quickest on a breezy day with a lap of 1m 37.329s.
Despite being slower than Rosberg and the Ferrari duo, Hamilton said: “It’s not been a bad day.
“I didn’t feel too comfortable with the car this morning but the team made some changes over lunch and it was much better in the second session.
“The weather has been surprisingly warm but with a lot of wind, which made it quite difficult out there through the high-speed corners.”
Hamilton, who will take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, added: “We’re seeing already that tyre degradation will be a big factor this weekend, which is pretty normal for this circuit but definitely something to watch out for on Sunday.
“I’ve had some amazing support here already. Every time I come to China I’m blown away by the amount of fans who come to see me.
“It’s only Friday and there were plenty of them over in the stands already with banners and flags, so a big shout-out to them.”
The Mercedes team diagnosed an ignition problem on Nico’s car at the end of FP1, which was resolved for second practice.
Rosberg, winner of the Australian and Bahrain GPs, said: “It was good to jump in the car again today and a decent start to the weekend.
“The first session was compromised by the red flag – but we managed to try a few different things that worked well.
“It looks like we are quick here again – but in the afternoon we saw that Ferrari are also very quick, so we are definitely looking out for them and we’ll have a bit homework to do tonight.”
Rosberg continued: “I’m happy that we have the old qualifying format back for tomorrow and really looking forward to that.
“I hope the fans are too and we can put on a good show for them.
“It’s always great to be back here in China, I really like the track – but most of all it’s the people. The fans are so enthusiastic!
“They waited two days at the airport to see me, which is really humbling, so a big shout-out to them.”
Both Silver Arrows drivers ran the medium and soft compound tyre in FP1.
Rosberg then used the soft and supersoft in FP2, while Lewis ran the medium and supersoft.
Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe said: “An interesting day’s work.
“We saw quite a bit of disruption to the morning session, with multiple red flags. Then, as the chequered flag dropped, Nico’s car went into ‘Limp Home’ mode, which we diagnosed as an ignition problem and resolved over lunch.
“We also made a few setup adjustments to both cars during the break and the drivers were generally happier in the second session.
“As is becoming the pattern with this new tyre formula, we’re conducting research on three tyre compounds across two sessions at low and high fuel, hence the split programme across the garage.
“Despite the stoppages, however, we got all the data we needed from today’s running.
“We’re very close with Ferrari on both single lap and long run pace across all three tyre compounds, so we look set for an exciting weekend.”
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