Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team did their talking on the track this morning as they dominated both practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Following Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia, many believed that Ferrari might finally be able to match the Mercedes and compete with them in Shanghai.
Hamilton topped both sessions to put any doubts to rest. The reigning champion topped FP1 with a lap-time of 1:39.033, which was 0.541s ahead of his teammate, Nico Rosberg, in second place.
The Brit used the prime option tyres for the entirety of FP1, completing 21 laps in total during the session which involved aerodynamic and setup evaluation.
The 30-year-old went even quicker in FP2 with a lap-time of 1:37.219, which was 0.443s quicker than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in second place.
Afterwards, Hamilton said: “Today was definitely an improvement on Friday in Malaysia. It was good to get both sessions in and that puts me in a stronger position. The team has done an amazing job to find some improvements in the car. Balance-wise it’s way better than the last race and it was generally feeling really good. I don’t know how long I went on each compound but it felt good on the long and short runs. The prime perhaps didn’t feel as good as the option but I’ll have to go and analyse the data to see where we are compared to the others.
“It was quite close between us and Ferrari. They look just as fast as they were last time out and Nico was quick as well, so we definitely have a race on. But I feel like I’ve got some improvements to make and I think we’ve got the pace to stay ahead.”
Rosberg also completed 21 laps in FP1, with his fastest lap coming in at 1:39.574. The German could only manage sixth position in FP2, with the team concentrating on longer runs out on track.
Rosberg’s time of 1:38.399 was 1.180s behind his teammate and he was also behind both of the Ferrari drivers, who looked strong on their longer runs.
Rosberg said: “It seems that we are very quick on one lap – but I just didn’t get my lap together on the softer tyres. I tried a different line on the grass at the final corner, which was not very quick as it turns out! Obviously, that wasn’t ideal and it cost me a good lap. But Lewis showed the pace we have in the car.
“On a long run we need to analyse the data to see where we are but the Ferraris seem to be very strong again. In the morning I tried a new front wing and we collected a lot of data, so that was a very useful session for us. It will be a long night with the engineers to find the best setup for the race on Sunday.”