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Page last updated at 07:47 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 08:47 UK

Lewis Hamilton fastest in Chinese Grand Prix practice

Lewis Hamilton's McLaren

Highlights - China second practice

By Pranav Soneji and Marc Vesty

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton set the pace during Friday's practice sessions at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The 2008 world champion managed a best lap of one minute 35:217 seconds, 0.248 secs ahead of Mercedes's Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button, fastest in the first session, was third ahead of Mercedes's Michael Schumacher.

Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi escaped unhurt from a 200mph crash when his front wheels fell off the car during the first session.

The Italian team blamed the crash on a failure of the front-right upright, which caused an immediate breakdown of the same part on the left.

Buemi, clearly shaken by the sudden capitulation of the front of his STR5 car, vented his anger when he returned to the pits before sitting out the entire second session.

Ideally we would like to get into Q3 and have a top-five start which will enable us to have a competitive start for the win

Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was over half a second off Hamilton's pace with a time of one minute 35:791 in fifth place, while team-mate Mark Webber was one place adrift in sixth.

The two drivers, who finished first and second in last year's race in Shanghai, had sat out the early part of the first practice session, allowing others to lay down the early rubber on a track which traditionally punishes tyres.

"It was our first really clean Friday, which was encouraging," said Webber, who finished second behind his team-mate at the Malaysia Grand Prix.

"We have a lot of stuff go through tonight about how the tyres are round here - it's the first track where they are behaving a little differently to other venues."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso set an impressive time of one minute 36.604 running on hard tyres and in race simulation.

Lewis Hamilton in action in China
Hamilton set the fastest time in practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix

The two-time world champion finished in 10th while team-mate and current championship leader Felipe Massa - running on soft tyres - was 11th, 0.340 seconds off Alonso's mark.

The Spaniard was forced to abandon his first session because of engine failure when flames billowed from his right exhaust pipe.

Alonso, who did not finish in Malaysia after his engine blew on the penultimate lap, was using the same engine in Shanghai as he had used for practice and qualifying in Bahrain.

The incident will be a major concern for Ferrari, who now look likely to have lost two of the eight engines they are allowed for the season.

However, Alonso said the team were anticipating problems at some stage during the next few weeks.

"It was something we were expecting, either here or Barcelona, because we knew this engine was degraded," he said.

"Everything is according to plan so far. Unfortunately we've lost two engines. This one we were expecting, the Malaysia one was a little more a surprise."

Force India's Adrian Sutil finished in seventh with a time of one minute 36.254, with Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari 0.123 secs behind in eighth.

JONATHAN LEGARD BLOG

Renault's Robert Kubica ended Friday in ninth place, while team-mate Vitali Petrov was one place below Massa in 12th.

Running on soft tyres, Hamilton set his fastest time in the second session after team-mate and defending world champion Button had clocked the best marker of one minute 36.677 in the first.

And the 25-year-old wants to maintain his speed into Saturday's final practice session before qualifying.

"You've seen our pace in the last two races, it's been pretty good," said Hamilton.

"But we've had to come from the back so ideally we would like to get into Q3 and have a top-five start which will enable us to have a competitive start for the win."

And Vettel believes qualifying will once again come down to the top-four teams.

"It looks very close; the Mercedes look competitive, as well as the McLarens and Ferraris," added the German.

"It will be tight, but we will see."

Sebastien Buemi

Highlights - China first practice



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see also
Alonso unfazed by engine problems
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Buemi escapes 200mph China crash
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP practice as it happened
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix practice results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Ferrari play down engine concerns
14 Apr 10 |  Formula 1


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