Lewis Hamilton Quickest in Free Practice 2 in Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton - Chinese Grand Prix
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton has continued his good form at the Chinese Grand Prix setting the fastest time of the session in Free Practice 2 ahead of Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Raikkonen.

The British driver set a 1:33.482 ahead of Raikkonen, only short by 0.007 seconds. Alongside the Ferrari driver was Valtteri Bottas in third in a weekend that’ll mark his 100th start. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel set the fourth fastest time of the session, completing only three laps on the Ultrasoft Pirelli tyres.

The story of the session was how long teams can get the Ultrasoft tyres to last around the Shanghai International Circuit, and found the challenge difficult as they found the tyres were hitting the ‘cliff’ early.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen rounded off the top 5 ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, who leads from a heavily close midfield battle from sixth place. Kevin Magnussen placed his Haas F1 Team car in seventh place ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr., who was the last driver to set a time less than a second to Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo was ninth fastest in the session with a 1:34.557, ahead of McLaren F1 Team‘s Fernando Alonso who rounds off the top ten.

Prior to the session as similar to the first practice session, heavy winds hit the track and the threat of rain was present around the circuit but the teams and drivers hit the track early to begin their practice programmes.

Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were the first to hit the 5.4 Kilometre circuit, followed shortly by the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda of Pierre Gasly.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen came out on track but was told to reported back to the pits due to an issue within the first ten minutes of the session. A software issue was a reason to the troubles for the Italian team and appeared back out on to the circuit shortly.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel started off their second practice sessions with an identical mistake at Turn six. Locking up and going wide at the corner, causing them two to abandon their first lap.

Valtteri Bottas was the first of the front runners to set a competitive lap time, followed by Max Verstappen in second place within the fifteen minute point of the session.

Hamilton went all-out attack on an lap before reaching the thirty minute point, aggressively taking the corners and pushing hard around the Shanghai circuit on the Ultrasoft Pirelli tyres. That lap alone pushed him up to first on the timing sheets with a 1:33.482.

Williams Martini Racing‘s Lance Stroll spun at Turn 8 whilst pushing for a lap, losing the rear at the exit of the corner. Romain Grosjean followed the trend but down at Turn 11, getting into a spin before the approach of Turn 12.

With forty-five minutes left of the session remaining, teams began running their racing simulation, particularly with the Ultrasoft soft tyres as they explore how long the softest tyre of the weekend can last.

Over the runs, teams found the drop-off on the Ultrasoft tyres were bigger than imagine. With drivers reporting in over the radio that the tyres began to drop within a few laps.

With twenty-five minutes of the session remain, rain was reported by the teams to arrive within the last fifteen minutes of the session left.

Stoffel Vandoorne was forced to stop on the track by Turn 6 due to a loose wheel when the Belgian came in for a change of tyres. The right rear wheel was loose upon release, making it the third race in a row where a pit stop incident has occurred over a race weekend. The FIA have placed an investigation over the incident.

With ten minutes of the session remaining, the rain began to hit the track down by Sector 2 before becoming too risky for the drivers to take and reported back into the pits.

Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Brendon Hartley, Pierre Gasly and Marcus Ericsson came back out on track with over three minutes to go on the intermediate tyres but Alonso came back in after one installation lap with the tyres.

The session ended in the wet conditions with Hamilton retaining the fastest time of the session as similar to Free Practice One as tomorrow brings the final practice session before qualifying begins for the Chinese Grand Prix.

144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:33.48226
27Kimi RaikkonnenScuderia Ferrari1:33.4890.00726
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:33.5150.03327
45Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari1:33.5900.10827
533Max VerstappenAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:33.8230.34126
627Nico HulkenbergRenault Sport Formula One Team1:34.3130.83130
720Kevin MagnussenHaas-F1 Team1:34.4580.97626
855Carlos Sainz JrRenault Sport Formula One Team1:34.4730.99128
93Daniel RicciardoAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:34.5571.07526
1014Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Formula 1 Team1:34.6321.15023
1111Sergio PerezSahara Force India F1 Team1:34.7921.31030
1210Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso1:34.8491.36733
1331Esteban OconSahara Force India F1 Team1:34.8741.39230
142Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Formula 1 Team1:35.1631.68121
1528Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso1:35.3331.85137
1635Sergey SirotkinWilliams Martini Racing1:35.3401.85831
179Marcus EricssonAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team1:35.6242.14229
1816Charles LeclercAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team1:35.9162.43426
198Romain GrosjeanHaas-F1 Team1:36.4712.98926
2018Lance StrollWilliams Martini Racing1:37.1473.66519