By Daniel Wilson.
Lewis Hamilton was in a league of his own as he dominated both Friday practice sessions, but Ferrari remain a threat to Mercedes following Sebastian Vettel’s win in Malaysia two weeks ago.
Nico Rosberg continued to struggle against his teammate, falling half a second behind Hamilton in P1 and 1.2 seconds off in P2 after running wide at the final turn on his only soft-tyre lap.
Kimi Raikkonen looked more impressive as he was the lead Ferrari in second place – just four tenths off Hamilton’s time of 1:37.219.
There were also encouraging signs for Red Bull as Daniel Ricciardo split the Ferrari’s in third, but a brake failure on Daniil Kvyat’s car saw him hit the barriers and end up sixth.
But Williams continued to struggle as they ended both sessions at the back end of the top ten, with Felipe Massa spinning out in the afternoon session at the hairpin at the end of the 1.3km straight – the longest in F1.
McLaren Honda made another step forward as Jenson Button edged into the top ten, just two seconds off the pace – a big leap from 5.5 seconds off in Melbourne last month.
GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer made his F1 debut in this morning’s outings as he tested the Lotus, but struggled with the low grip on track to end up 15th.
However, questions about security were raised at the Shanghai circuit after a spectator appeared to get past officials and run across the race track before leaping onto the pit wall. He was apprehended by marshals who handed him over to the Chinese police.
On track, it looks as though Ferrari could be a threat once more despite predictions the cooler track temperatures would not favour the prancing horse.
But can Kimi emulate good running today and go on and challenge for his first Ferrari win since 2007? Or can Hamilton takes his 35th career win and get his championship back on track?
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