Schumacher Tops Shanghai Free Practice
Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher went quickest on the first day of practice with a best time of 1 minute 35.973s but Lewis Hamilton, quickest in the damp first session, wasn’t far behind for McLaren and looked like he would beat it until he lost time in the final sector. Team mate Jenson Button, however, was left complaining of “way too much understeer” to his race engineer. Meanwhile Red Bull were busy exploring their exhaust configuration with Sebastian Vettel reverting to the layout used during pre-season testing in an otherwise fairly uneventful two sessions.
The FIA have decreed that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead but on the track it was all about Lotus’ protest against Mercedes’ wing system. The Double Drag Reduction System, or DDRS, as Mercedes call it was once again given the green light. Lotus, who will be undoubtedly frustrated after having the decision on the legality of their reactive suspension system reversed earlier in the year, have decided to not appeal. With one of the fastest and longest straights on the calendar, the DDRS could prove particularly effective in qualifying and with Lewis Hamilton also taking a five-place grid penalty for changing his gear box, Mercedes may fancy their chances of starting from the front of the grid this weekend.
Despite topping the time sheets, Michael Schumacher was quite circumspect about his expectations for the weekend, perhaps reflecting Mercedes’ weak race pace in the first two races. “It was a trouble-free day, and I am quite happy with how our car is handling so far here,” said the German. “We will now have to look deeper into the data in order to find out where we really are here, but I am looking forward to tomorrow’s qualifying.”
Lewis Hamilton was much more enthusiastic about his day’s progress and with the team’s latest updates. “It’s been a great day – it stayed dry in the afternoon so we successfully got through our run programme,” said the McLaren driver. “We’re still working away to improve the set-up, but the new bits on the car seem to be working: the guys back at the factory have done a great job.”
Worryingly for Felipe Massa’s mind set, he seems to be already reaching for the excuses book. “When I was on my first run on the Soft tyres, Glock went off the track at Turn 1 and I was forced to pit again: this meant I was unable to get the most out of this set of tyres and significantly improve my time,” explained the under-pressure Brazilian. “I am sure that it would have been much faster than the one posted on the classification.” Personally, I don’t think any driver needs to explain free practice times and if this is the way he’s already thinking, it can’t help his performance for the rest of the weekend.
This week’s guest predictor is Krit of LiteralF1. Krit says “McLaren’s pace is clear from the first two races but things haven’t quite fallen into place for them on a Sunday yet. I’m predicting both their drivers, who go well around Shanghai, to change that this weekend.” Last time, our predictions were washed away with Malaysia’s rain but our guest, Leigh of The F1 and Motorsports Archive, came out on top thanks to Hamilton’s third place and Raikkonen’s fifth.
|Mav||1. Button||2. Vettel||3. Hamilton|
|Salti||1. Button||2. Hamilton||3. Vettel|
|Guest||1. Hamilton||2. Button||3. Vettel|
Scores: Mav – 6 points, Salti – 9 points, Guests – 12 points, Top Guest – Pat with 9 points
Three points for a driver finishing in the predicted position with one point less for each position away.
Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas