Chinese GP practice as it happened

Michael Schumacher is fastest in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton top in the first session.

13 April 2012 Last updated at 09:18

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As it happened

  1. 0900: 

    All that's left for me to do is thank you for your company and point you in the direction of Inside F1 which will be broadcast on the BBC News Channel at 1845 BST. We'll also have plenty of video up on the website reacting to today's action. I'll be back at 0330 BST on Saturday to take you through third practice and then qualifying. Cheerio for now.

  2. 0852: 

    There is sure to be plenty of reaction to the news Bahrain is going ahead next week so stay tuned to throughout the day for the latest. If you missed anything from today's practice, may I suggest reading Andrew Benson's report for an overview.


    Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said his team will seek extra security for next week's Bahrain Grand Prix: "We take the security of all our employees very carefully and so inevitably as with other races sometimes extra precautions are taken. We'll do our best to ensure that all our guys and girls are in a secure environment."

  4. 0845: 

    So it's the McLarens and Mercedes who are looking the strongest after three hours of practice with the Red Bulls look pretty handy.

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    Talking to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone about Bahrain: "Everyone is happy. We haven't got any problems. A lot has been discussed by the media but they don't have any idea what's going on - that's the problem."

  6. 0835: 

    Sergio Perez is 11th fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna, Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa, Charles Pic and Narain Karthikeyan.

  7. 0832: 

    The Mercedes driver finishes 0.172 seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton with Sebastian Vettel 0.01 seconds further back. Mark Webber is fourth fastest ahead of Nico Rosberg with Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso complete the top 10.

  8. 0830: 


  9. 0828: 

    Lewis Hamilton outbrakes himself at the end of the long straight into the Turn 14. The McLaren driver has a big lock up and goes straight on before rejoining the track. That's the end of his day's work as he retreats to the pits.

  10. 0824: 

    Felipe Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley tells the Brazilian that Fernando Alonso is not braking into Turn 3. That suggests Massa is, something I don't think Smedley is too happy about. Alonso is currently a massive nine tenths quicker than his under-pressure team-mate.

  11. 0822: 

    Teams are focusing on longer runs at the moment, so don't expect to see the times change too much. The Red Bulls are both out on the medium tyre, according to Pirelli, while Lewis Hamilton is trying on the soft tyre for size.

  12. 0819: 

    BBC Radio 5 live commentatorJames Allen says the reason why some parts of the Shanghai International Circuit surface is so bumpy is due to subsidence, as the circuit is built on marsh land.

  13. 0817: 

    For those of you asking about top speeds, Mercedes duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg plus the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen are up top with a top speed of 320kph.

  14. 0815: 

    Kimi Raikkonen asks his engineer: "What am I doing?" as he sits in his garage waiting instruction. The Finn obviously just wants to get out on track and wring the neck of that Lotus but his team tell him he's going nowhere at the moment as they wait for track temperatures to improve.

  15. 0811: 

    So Michael Schumacher still leads the way, 0.172 seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton with Sebastian Vettel third. Mark Webber is fourth ahead of Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.


    Marussia driver Timo Glock: "I'm feeling OK now - there's no problem. First it felt like I had pain in my left hand. I have no idea what happened - I just came to Turn 1 and the car went straight [on]. We had some new bits on the car so I hope they are still in one piece."


    Marussia on Twitter: "Timo okay after a nasty trip through the gravel. We are naturally looking into what happened. More when we can."


    Force India on Twitter: "Both Paul and Nico now working on the soft tyres with 30 mins of FP2 remaining."

  19. 0804: 

    Kimi Raikkonen has a bit of a moment at Turn 15. As he hits the gas at the top of the pit straight, he dips his right rear wheel on to the artificial grass - which is covered in rain water - and just flicks his Lotus back into position as the barrier approaches. His team tell him to come into the pits but Kimi replies: "But I want to do one more lap."

  20. 0802: 

    Paul di Resta is getting lairy at the final corner again. He runs his Force India well wide, but this time controls the back end and stops the car spinning. The Scot is currently 1.5 seconds off the pace, but three tenths quicker than his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Marussia are unsure as to what happened to Timo Glock at Turn 1. First their concern is for Timo who has hurt his hand."

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "I think Ferrari will be slower than they were in Malaysia. They are really struggling. Their top speed is much slower than McLaren."

  23. 0800: 

    With 30 minutes remaining, Michael Schumacher leads from Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg follow, with Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10 fastest runners. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson reports that Schumacher and Hamilton are finding it easier to get heat into the soft tyres from the off, while guys like Felipe Massa in the Ferrari are struggling.

  24. 0755: 

    Oh dear, I think that was a case of commentator's curse. After going purple, fastest of all, in the first two sectors, Hamilton loses a bunch of time in the final sector and can only manage the second fastest time.

  25. 0752: 

    The track is now clear and Michael Schumacher makes the most of it, going fastest of anybody with a 1:35.973 to eclipse Sebastian Vettel by 0.187 seconds. Lewis Hamilton is on an absolute flier, though, so watch this space.


    Andrew on Twitter: "Helmet Cam is so cool!"

    FOM, who deliver the moving pictures to broadcasters across the world, have decided to place the helmet cam on Paul di Resta's Force India this weekend - and I have to agree with Andrew in saying that it is pretty nifty.

  27. 0747: 

    A bizarre accident for Timo Glock at Turn 1. It looks like the nose section of his Marussia has detached itself and sent him flying off into the gravel. Glock sits in his car for a while, reporting to his team that he's got "some pain in his hand", before jumping out and hopping on the back of a scooter back to the pits.

  28. 0745: 

    On Thursday, the joke was on Sebastian Vettel when he was handed a cucumber in a nod to his comment about fellow driver Narain Karthikeyan following their clash at the Malaysian Grand Prix.


    Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery: "China proved to be one of the most fascinating races in our first year, with tyre strategy at the heart of it, so we have a tough act to follow. However, the philosophy we have adopted this year actually extends the window of peak performance on the slick tyres, which means that the drivers should be able to race harder and closer. Although ambient temperatures can be quite low in China, tyre degradation is traditionally high due to the unique track layout. So although we have the same nomination as we saw in Australia - medium and soft - our tyres will face a quite different challenge in Shanghai."

  30. 0740: 

    Mark Webber bolts on a set of the softer option tyre to go third quickest, but he's still seven tenths slower than Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel who set his time on the harder compound. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery tells us that he expected that sort of gap between the two compounds.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Most of the front teams will have new developments for the Mugello test which happens between the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix but I don't see any circuit coming up that will give any major advantage for the Mercedes double DRS system. It's also quite difficult to design a front wing with the necessary slots in it without compromising its overall performance. So it would be unwise for most teams to rush off and design something to and foresake their normal development direction."

  32. 0738: 

    Paul di Resta finds himself pointing in the wrong direction when he runs wide at the final corner. He hits a wet patch in the artifical grass on the outside of the corner and is a passenger as the car spins round. The Scot keeps the engine running, spins back round and then continues on his way.

  33. 0736: 

    We have a new leader in the form of reigning champion Sebastian Vettel. He improves to go clear two tenths of a second clear at the top. Lewis Hamilton is down to second with Nico Rosberg third and Kamui Kobayashi fourth.

  34. 0734: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is up to his old tricks again. That poor Sauber really does get thrown around when the Japanese is at the wheel. This time, Kobayashi has a massive slide. He sticks a load of opposite lock on and catches the car just before the gravel trap. Great skills.


    McLaren on Twitter: "The weather forecast is predicting no rain during the rest of P2."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "McLaren's pit-box markings are painted at an angle in the pit-lane so the driver doesn't have to turn as much to get into the pit-box. It's an ingenious idea by the team. It'll be harder to get out of it, but you can spin the wheels to get back on the pit-lane."

  37. 0730: 

    Lewis Hamilton has a new design on the back of his helmet this weekend. It's a cartoon of him sailing a Chinese 'junk' boat. If it rains on race day, he'll be hoping to sail away to victory. Sorry.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "The tyres look pretty decent and conditions are pretty good. I think the cars are bottoming out because the air is quite damp and so the cars are producing better downforce. With dampness in the air it makes everything work a little bit better."

  39. 0728: 

    The top nine - Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Schumacher, Webber, Alonso, Button, Hulkenberg and Kobayashi - have all headed back to the pits to analyse the data and get a new set of boots. Out on track Daniel Ricciardo tells his Toro Rosso team that he's struggling with heavy steering into the first corner to which his race engineer replies - "I can sort it for you but it might take three months." Charming.

  40. 0725: 

    Everybody has set a lap time apart from Pedro de la Rosa in the HRT. The field is seperated by 6.2 seconds, with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace at the front, and Marussia's Charles Pic bringing up the rear.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "In the wake of the FIA's decision to put out a statement confirming that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next weekend, you still don't have to look particularly hard in the paddock to find people expressing disquiet about holding the race. It now seems F1 will be heading to Bahrain after this weekend, and there is a widespread hope that the decision does not backfire. Many people will have eyes on the news over the next couple of days to see whether there is any reaction to the move in Bahrain."

  42. 0720: 

    Felipe Massa gets it all wrong on his third flying lap, locking his front right tyre and flat-spotting it as a result. That's ruined that set of tyres.

  43. 0715: 

    Nico Rosberg runs Lewis Hamilton close, clocking 1:36.948 to go second, 0.134 seconds off the McLaren's early pace. Sebastian Vettel is up to third, with Michael Schumacher fourth, Mark Webber fifth and Jenson Button sixth. There are a couple of sparks flying out of the back of Schumacher's Mercedes. BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari reckons teams are struggling with the ride-height and so we're getting a scenario where the plank is a little too low and thus touching the track to send up the sparks.


    Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug on the team's controversial rear wing: "We introduced this system to the FIA before the start of the season, we got a green light, we were just waiting for confirmation. It's for the other teams to decide whether to copy us. It was an open process and the decision was the right one. In terms of our race pace, we've had two different problems in each race - I don't think it's this DRS system."

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Lewis Hamilton is running the Friday gearbox as opposed to the one he used in Malaysia as McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh previously alluded to. They still haven't decided if they're going to to change the race gearbox yet, but they probably will as it could have gone at any time during Malaysia apparently - but McLaren haven't confirmed it."

  46. 0710: 

    Daniel Ricciardo improves on his next tour, getting down into the 1m37s to go fastest, 0.166 seconds ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button. One minute later, Lewis Hamilton jumps ahead of both of them with a 1:36.814.

  47. 0705: 

    We don't have to wait too long for the first flying laps this time around with Sergio Perez setting the early pace in his Sauber with a 1:38.785 to go 0.4 seconds clear of Daniel Ricciardo. Paul di Resta is third fastest ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne.

  48. 0700: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    That man Heikki Kovalainen is the first man out on track once more in his Caterham. HRT Narain Karthikeyan follows him out with Williams' Bruno Senna not too far behind. This will be the Brazilian's first taste of the Shanghai track after the team's reserve driver Valtteri Bottas took over duties in FP1.

  49. 0655: 

    We're up and running on the red button and on this very website. Within seconds, you should be able to hear James Allen and Jaime Alguersuari in the BBC Radio 5 live commentary box. They'll be joined by F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson with Jennie Gow roaming the pit-lane and paddock.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "All the top teams will have an eye on the performance of Lotus this weekend - it's become clear that the car has serious pace but that two messy weekends have prevented them showing it. Kimi Raikkonen felt he could have had a shot at pole in Malaysia had he not made some mistakes on his qualifying laps. But technical director James Allison was cautious about the team's prospects for China when I chatted to him on Thursday, pointing out that Shanghai contains lots of slow corners, where the team struggled in 2011. This year's car is much better, though - and it arrives here with a pretty major upgrade, which features a new floor, engine cover, front wing, barge boards and track rods."

  51. 0650: 

    There's just 10 minutes to go until the 90-minute second practice session gets going so let me take this opportunity to get involved with your thoughts on all things F1. Who impressed you most in first practice, who do you think will get pole on Saturday? Do you want to see another wet race? Tweet me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or drop me a text on 81111 (UK only), remembering to leave your name.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "It turns out that Red Bull actually had a new exhaust design on Sebastian Vettel's car in first practice - although it was very similar to the one with which the car started pre-season testing. Vettel's design moves the exhaust pipes further towards the centre and rear of the car than the ones Webber was using. The two designs signify different design approaches. The new one on Vettel's car is an attempt to make better use of the 'coke-bottle' shape at the rear of the car, which is a very influential area. The one on Webber's car is the more standard at the moment - which is to try to ape the effect of last year's now-banned blown diffusers by sealing the area where the floor meets the rear tyre. Last year this was very powerful but with the limitations imposed by new rules this year it is much less so. Teams are still chasing this area, but I wonder whether what Red Bull are now doing on Vettel's car won't actually end up being the solution they all end up at, as the 'Webber' solution potentially risks losing some of the 'coke-bottle' effect."

  53. 0645: 

    Lewis Hamilton, who will be handed a five-place grid penalty when his McLaren team change his damage gearbox, was quickest in FP1, one second clear of the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. I've just spotted the Briton, wrapped up in a thick silver McLaren jacket, strolling through the enormous paddock in China smiling and signing autographs for fans. That's one relaxed man.

  54. 0640: 

    Right, OK. That's us told, Mr Ecclestone.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "It's still pretty chilly here as second practice approaches - definitely jumper weather. The big action over lunch was the team principals' meeting with Bernie Ecclestone, from which the sport's boss emerged saying next weekend's Bahrain race was now '200% certain'."

  56. 0635: 

    While I've been away, Bernie Ecclestone has been meeting with the teams and I'm hearing that they have just finished up. I'll let you know what was said as soon as I find out.

  57. 0630: 

    Hello, anyone there? Good. It's almost time to get second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix under way. Welcome to everyone just joining us and massive props to those who have been here since the beginning. Well done you, especially as the first 85 minutes of the session were largely uneventual.

  58. 0450: 

    Time for me to refuel, folks. I'll be back at 0630 BST to take you through second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix. For now, let me leave you with Andrew Benson's FP1 report. See you in a bit.

  59. 0445: 

    Well that got all exciting right at he end, didn't it? Lewis Hamilton seems to love this place, but it's still really early days of course and he will need to take that five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race. The Mercedes look strong again, but have they sorted out their race pace or can we expect them to fade once more? And those white and blue Saubers look mighty racy, too. Could Sergio Perez, and his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, challenge for the podium once more and show that Malaysia wasn't a one-off? I can't wait to find out.


    Pirelli on Twitter: "Last year's fastest time in FP1 was 1.38.739 by Sebastian Vettel. This year Lewis went 1s faster: 1.37.106."


    Irma: "Shame Lewis will get that grid penalty, cos he was looking pretty fast out there again this morning."

  62. 0436: 

    Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel finished sixth and seventh fastest overall in their Red Bulls, ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button. The Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne complete the top 10. Kimi Raikkonen finished last in his Lotus, but they may have more to do with the Finn calling time on his session early when the track was at it's quickest.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "At the moment, the times don't mean anything and there's still a lot to do. But it's interesting to see the Saubers up there - they look competitive. For the rest, let's see how they progress. It'll be interesting to see what the difference between Mercedes and McLaren will be later this weekend."

  64. 0434: 

    Lewis Hamilton improves just before the chequered flag drops to go one second clear of the rest of the field with a 1:37.106. Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher improve as well to slot into second and third with the Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi fourth and fifth.

  65. 0432: 


  66. 0430: 

    Everyone is out on track apart from the two Lotus cars with Lewis Hamilton making the most of the improved conditions. The 2008 world champion is absolutely flying and tops Mark Webber's time by 0.8 seconds. Let's not forget the Briton has been mighty at his track, securing his second victory in five attempts last year.

  67. 0428: 

    Sebastian Vettel reports that his DRS is not working, but he still improves his personal best to 1:43.098 for the 13th fastest time. Lewis Hamilton loses time in the final sector and can only manage the third fastest time, 0.137 seconds shy of Mark Webber's leading time.

  68. 0427: 

    It looks like the track is finally starting to come to the drivers, three minutes before the end of the session. Mark Webber goes purple in the first sector, is slightly off in the second sector, and is purple again in the final sector to extend his lead at the top to 0.341 seconds. But Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton are on flyers so that may change.

  69. 0425: 

    BBC Radio 5 live reporter Jennie Gow reports that Kimi Raikkonen has jumped out of the car and left the garage with five minutes of the session still remaining. The team report that the Finn has used up all of his tyres and as there's not much more that can get gleaned in the tricky conditions, the team have let him end his session early.

  70. 0422: 

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen points out that McLaren have repainted their pit box, with the lines angled slightly towards the garage so the drivers don't have to do that final turn left when they come in for new boots. He adds that he thinks the team may have done that to speed up the stops and speculates that it could be because Lewis Hamilton lost times in the stops in Malaysia. If you're watching on the red button or this very website, keep an eye out for those new markings in FP2.


    Caterham on Twitter: "Heikki reports that it's too dry for inters. Both cars coming back for slicks."

  72. 0417: 

    Sebastian Vettel sets his first flying lap of the day, one hour 15 minutes into the session. The German clocks 1:44.850 to go seventh fastest, 5.3 seconds off the pace. That just leaves Kamui Kobayashi, Giedo van der Garde, Jules Bianchi, Valetteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who have yet to set a time.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "These tricky conditions can be a benefit for everybody, even if it is just to compare the wet weather times to dry times. The race on Sunday could be like this and people will need to make decisions, so it's definitely useful running."

  74. 0414: 

    Timo Glock has a massive moment out on track in his Marussia, prompting his engineer to radio him saying: "Do you need new underwear?" Nice touch.

  75. 0412: 

    Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are sat in their cars but don't look like they're going anywhere. The McLaren duo have yet to set a lap time, but I suspect they're waiting for the conditions to improve rather than because of any technical issues.

  76. 0410: 

    Kimi Raikkonen is driving that Lotus like a rally car as he grapples with his black and gold machine that is seriously struggling for grip on what is a very slippery track. The Finn does still complete his first timed lap of the day, though, with a 1:50.268 seconds, 10 seconds off the pace to show how the conditions have deteriorated since Mark Webber set the leading time.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "Lewis Hamilton was putting a brave face on Thursday on the news that he will have to take a five-place grid penalty this weekend after McLaren needed to change his gearbox. Hamilton has been on pole for both races so far this season - and he clearly has high expectations he can limit the damage of the penalty. 'It doesn't alter my approach,' he said. 'I still have to try and qualify as high as possible. I won from third last year so I'll try to win from further back. I'll have to try for sixth if possible or somewhere close to that.'"

  78. 0405: 

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen reports that Caterham have added a new floor and a new engine cover which they hope will give them two to three tenths of a second and help them close the gap to the midfield teams.

  79. 0400: 

    McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh tells BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow that there is a 99% chance Lewis Hamilton will change his gearbox for Sunday's race, and thus pick up a five-place grid penalty, but the team are still running the damaged gearbox, which has a crack, in practice to carry out some tests. Whitmarsh adds that even if Hamilton makes the change for reliability purposes, he's hopeful it won't ruin the 2008 world champion's race because the track is overtaking-friendly.


    Williams driver Bruno Senna, who is sitting out this session to give reserve driver Valetteri Bottas : "I think Malaysia was my strongest drive so far. All the decisions on strategy came together at the right time. The whole team's moral and motivation is now higher. I think we have a good car. The team went back to basics and put together a nice driveable car. The task is to keep the goodness of car and improve performance."

  81. 0356: 

    I'm starting to think the teams will need to install fog lights onto their 2012 machines as it's seriously misty out there. Fernando Alonso doesn't seem to mind, though, as he's just decided to pop out for a quick tour to assess the conditions. I'm guessing he's regretting that decision because he barely moving out of third gear.

  82. 0353: 

    There may be no action out on track, but that doesn't seem to have dampened the moral of the fans who have turned up. There are a gaggle of Fernando Alonso fans on the pit straight waving the blue and yellow flags of Asturias - the region where the Spaniard was born.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "The comparative lack of speed shown by world champions Red Bull has been one of the talking points of the year. After exploiting the rules of the past two seasons so successfully, they have been hit hard by the ban on exhaust-blown diffusers and the increased front wing stiffness test in 2012. The team have taken an interesting step this weekend as they try to understand what's going wrong with their car - Sebastian Vettel will start first practice with the car's original, less advanced exhaust configuration fitted so it can be compared with Mark Webber's car in the newer one that aims the exhausts at the area around the rear tyres to try to increase downforce by 'sealing' the underfloor. It underlines that Red Bull appear to have been left behind a little by the way developments are going in this area."

  84. 0348: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber is still fastest of all after setting a 1:39.558, 1.6 seconds quicker than Romain Grosjean and a further seventh tenths ahead of Williams's Pastor Maldonando. Daniel Ricciardo, Heikki Kovalainen, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg, Pedro de la Rosa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Narain Karthikeyan complete the runners to have signed a timed lap.

  85. 0346: 

    The conditions are pretty grim at the track at the moment. There's a haze hanging over the Shanghai International Circuit and with drivers reporting pretty slippery conditions out on track. I've just spotted Red Bull Christian Horner firmly zipped into a jacket with his hands in his pockets and a face that suggests he's more than a little chilly...

  86. 0344: 

    Kaltenborn, who has been with Sauber for 13 years, also confirmed that she is set to take over the reins of the team from Peter Sauber in the future, thus becoming the first female team boss.


    Sauber's chief executive officer Monisha Kaltenborn: "There was a small celebration [after Sergio Perez's second place in Malaysia] , but we're in the middle of the season so the main thing is we keep the positive momentum. We definitely have learnt from last year when it comes to the exhaust and how we make the tyres work."


    McLaren on Twitter: "Conditions look pretty tricky out there - it's damp and greasy. And, because it's cold, there's very little grip too."

  89. 0340: 

    Felipe Massa has a big moment on the exit of Turn 10, running wide and narrowly keeping his Ferrari out of the gravel trap. BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari says the Brazilian is struggling to get heat into the tyres in the cold conditions which is why he is struggling for grip.


    BBC Points West weatherman Ian Fergusson: "Some patchy light rain easing towards circuit but lower rates may not resolve fully on rainfall radar."

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "Sergio Perez is still a focus of attention here in China after his stunning drive to second place in Malaysia. His performance - and the struggles of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa - have led to speculation that the Mexican could be parachuted in as a replacement for the Brazilian this season. But Perez dismissed the notion here, saying there was no way he would join Ferrari mid-season. He always wants to give 100% to a team and if he went to Ferrari he could not give 100% to either outfit. I've interviewed Perez for a film that will be broadcast in our qualifying build-up on BBC One on Saturday from 0600 BST."

  92. 0334: 

    Hooray, we have a lap time. Mark Webber crosses the finish line in 1:40.647 in his Red Bull to goes quickest, with Daniel Ricciardo and Narain Karthikeyan slotting into second and third respectively.

  93. 0330: 

    Just as it looked like the conditions were improving, drops of rain start to fall. Narain Karthikeyan trips up on the greasy track, as does Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, but both drivers control their machines and continue on their way.

    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "Conditions are improving, but track temperatures are only 13 degrees. It's really quite cold here. That will be the challenge this weekend, getting the tyres to work in this weather."

  95. 0325: 

    The track is still littered with wet patches, which goes someway to explaining why we have yet to see a flying lap. However, Michael Schumacher is one of many drivers who have dumped the inters in favour of some slick tyres - so that's progress.

  96. 0320: 

    With the track still pretty quiet, now seems like a good opportunity to point you in the direction of our F1 index which has the latest story on the Bahrain Grand Prix.

  97. 0318: 

    Michael Schumacher is out and about in his Mercedes, but he doesn't stay out long and heads back to the pits without setting a lap-time. That means we've yet to see a timed lap from anyone yet. I would say that the fans aren't getting their monies worth, but a glance over at the grandstands suggests there aren't many fans there to miss out. There are, however, some giant red banners covering the seats and keeping them dry.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Lewis has got a huge frame on the back of the car, which they're allowed to on Friday practice. It's what called an aero-rig and it's measuring airflow from the diffuser. Yhey're doing their washing in public, so to speak. Friday practice is one of the only times they can test it as they've got limited testing in the season.

  99. 0312: 

    Good news for McLaren fans - both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have made their way out on inters to complete an installation lap before diving straight back into the pits. The team are running a quirky device on the back of Hamilton's car. I think it looks like a cheese-grater. Here's our technical guru Gary Anderson with more on that.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "Ferrari's Fernando Alonso enters this weekend as the surprise world championship leader following his remarkable victory in Malaysia three weeks ago. The win not only took the Spaniard past Jackie Stewart in the all-time winners' list but has also drawn comparisons with the great Gilles Villeneuve, who has passed into legend for performing impossible feats in uncompetitive Ferraris. Alonso has said here that he feels 'privileged' that his name to be in such exalted company and that he intends to climb further up that table before the end of his career. 'Records are not something you pay a big attention to now as you are so focused on your daily preparation,' he said, 'but I'm sure in 10 of 15 years' time I will appreciate it much more.' Alonso has made it clear that the lack of performance from the Ferrari will likely mean he loses his position at the head of the championship on Sunday - notwithstanding some new parts on the Ferrari, he is expecting a battle to get into final qualifying and a scrap for some points in the race."

  101. 0308: 

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner tells our pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow that Red Bull are running slightly different exhaust layouts. Sebastian Vettel has the new spec, while Mark Webber has the normal one. The team will then assess the data after practice and decide which one to pursue for the rest of the weekend.

  102. 0305: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo have filed out onto the 5.451km track to complete their installation laps, too, cloesly followed by Felipe Massa's Ferrari and Red Bull's Mark Webber. No sign of the McLaren boys yet or Fernando Alonso who is currently leading the championship.


    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner: "We have to follow and trust the FIA. They are closer to the situation than we are. I'm sure they're taking all the necessary advice. If the FIA say the race is going to happen, we'll certainly be there."

  104. 0300: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    And it's go, go, go at a damp and overcast Shanghai International Circuit. Heikki Kovalainen is the first man out of the pit-lane in his Caterham, closely followed by the team's reserve driver Van der Garde and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi.

  105. 0257: 

    Giedo van der Garde is stepping into Vitaly Petrov's Caterham for the first session, which incidently will last for 90 minutes, while Valetteri Bottas will be doing the same in place of Bruno Senna at Williams and Jules Bianchi is in for Paul di Resta at Force India. The Russian and Brazilian will be back behind the wheel for FP2 which gets going at 0700 GMT.

  106. 0255: 

    In just under five minutes, you'll be able to hear the dulcet tones of Ben Edwards who is primed and ready to go in the BBC Radio 5 live commentary box. He'll be joined by ex-Toro Rosso and current Pirelli test driver Jaime Alguersuari with James Allen and Jennie Gow out and about in the pit-lane. And we've got pictures, yes live pictures, for you to enjoy in the lovely module at the top of the page or via the red button. Excited? Yep, me too.

  107. 0251: 

    It's that time of the morning when I turn to you for help. I need you, each and every one of you, to bombard me with texts and tweets, getting anything F1-related off your chest. Do you think F1 will go to Bahrain? Will Fernando Alonso be able to hold onto his championship lead? Will Red Bull bounce back to form this weekend? Tweet me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or drop me a text on 81111 (UK only), remembering to leave your name.

  108. 0247: 

    On top of all that, we have a championship to talk about - and one that's shaping up to be ruddy exciting. Sure, McLaren may have taken over from Red Bull as the dominant force, locking out the front row in both races so far this season, but in the races it's been far from predictable. I mean, after seeing Fernando Alonso drag that Ferrari around in testing, who would have thought he'd go an win a race at the second time of asking to lead the drivers' standings?

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "The season's first big technical row - over the controversial Mercedes double DRS system - appears to have been resolved after Lotus had a protest thrown out on Thursday. There remains widespread surprise - not to mention a fair bit of resentment - at how the FIA can have concluded the system is legal. Most teams feel that its linking of the front wing with the DRS overtaking aid on the rear clearly contravenes articles 3.15 and 3.18 of the regulations. It remains to be seen whether there is now a rush from Mercedes rivals to copy it now, despite it clearly giving an advantage in qualifying. McLaren's Jenson Button, who used to race for the team in its previous guises, said: 'I don't think it's been giving them that much. They are losing out in the race and that's where the points are won. It's a great idea. That team is well known for great ideas; we had many in the past when I was there. But I don't think it's a great idea that a lot of people are going to spend a lot of time or money in trying to copy because I don't think they think it's as big as it's made out to be.'"

  110. 0245:  
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "Discussion in the paddock on Thursday centred almost exclusively not on the race this Sunday - but on the one that is scheduled to happen next weekend. The issue of whether F1 should race in Bahrain this year has been simmering since the 2011 grand prix was cancelled last summer and it's coming to a head. Save for Mark Webber, who gave an eloquent exposition on the internal battle everyone in the sport is facing over the issue, most ducked it publicly. On Friday morning, governing body the FIA appeared to end the debate by confirming the race would go ahead. Friday 13th is not exactly an auspicious day to be making such a potentially momentous decision. There are many anxious people hoping it is the right one."

  111. 0240: 

    So the Bahrain Grand Prix has well and truly overshadowed the Chinese Grand Prix with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone set to meet the teams today to discuss the situation. In the last few hours, Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has confirmed the race in the Gulf state will go ahead on 22 April. A statement said the body was "satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula 1 world championship event". More on that soon.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Shanghai

    "Ni Hao - or 'hello' as we say in English - from China, where the third instalment of an already fascinating 2012 Formula 1 season will take place this weekend. The megalopolis of Shanghai is one of the biggest and fastest growing urban areas in the world, encompassing 22 million people. From the 18th floor of our hotel here in the outlying Jiading district, the city stretches as far as the eye can see in all directions. But not many of the millions here will be at the track gazing in awe at either the imposing main buildings or the skills of the men behind the wheel because it's simply too expensive - the cheapest grandstand ticket costs about a third of a month's salary. A journalist colleague counted 57 people in the grandstands while he was out watching practice last year, and it feels about as busy here on Friday. Oh, and it's a damp start after overnight rain."

  113. 0235: 

    A very warm welcome to the third race of the season at the Shanghai International Circuit. I hope you've rested well and feasted aplenty on Easter eggs during the three week break. Shockingly, I still have stacks of mini eggs left so I'll be beavering my way through them this morning. I do hope you've got yourself sorted with some proper sustenance too as we've got plenty to get through.

  114. 0230: 

    Will we, won't we? All the build up to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix has in fact been about the Bahrain Grand Prix and whether or not the Gulf State will actually hold a race next weekend. One thing is for sure, though - we will be racing in China this weekend with first practice getting under way in 30 minutes.

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Formula 1 World Championship 2014

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 384
2 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 317
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 238
4 Finland V Bottas Williams 186
5 Germany S Vettel Red Bull 167
6 Spain F Alonso Ferrari 161
7 Brazil F Massa Williams 134
8 Great Britain J Button McLaren 126
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 96
10 Mexico S Perez Force India 59
11 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren 55
12 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 55
13 France J Vergne Toro Rosso 22
14 France R Grosjean Lotus 8
15 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso 8
16 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 2
18 Germany A Sutil Sauber 0
20 Mexico E Gutierrez Sauber 0
22 Japan K Kobayashi Caterham 0
23 W Stevens Caterham 0


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham