Chinese Grand Prix: Friday Practice Recap

The third round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Shanghai International Circuit as teams prepared for the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday, we do our round up with some if the teams…

Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn track were run under cool, overcast and breezy conditions.

Haas F1 Team:

Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were on the same program for FP1 – an installation lap on Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires followed by a baseline stint on that same set of softs before switching to the Purple ultrasoft tire for two additional runs, both of which came on the same set. Each driver tallied 21 laps, with Magnussen securing the seventh-fastest time while Grosjean earned the ninth-quickest time. Magnussen’s best lap was a 1:35.178 earned on his 12th tour, and Grosjean’s top mark was a 1:35.718 that came on his 13th lap. Both drivers procured their quick times with their Haas VF-18s outfitted on ultrasofts.

Rain fell only in the waning moments of FP2, allowing drivers plenty of dry running time. Magnussen took full advantage by knocking down 26 laps with a best time of 1:34.458 on his 12th tour that put him seventh on the speed chart. Grosjean also ran 26 laps, but instead focused on high-fuel, long runs. As a result, his best time was a 1:36.471 on his seventh lap, which put him 19th overall. Magnussen began FP2 on the White medium tire, logging nine laps before switching to the Purple ultrasoft for the remainder of the session. Grosjean took a different approach, beginning FP2 on the Yellow soft tire. He ran nine laps on softs and then switched to ultrasofts before returning to softs for a final, six-lap drive. Magnussen’s quick time was earned on ultrasofts while Grosjean’s best lap came on softs.

Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 94 laps, split evenly between Magnussen and Grosjean.

Scuderia Ferrari:

Practice at the Shanghai International Circuit was ended prematurely by drizzle when Kimi and Seb had nearly concluded their long-runs, after setting second and fourth best times on the timesheet. Nearly all drivers set their best times on the Ultrasoft compound, while various types of rubber were tried in race trim simulations. The Chinese track is 5.451 Kilometers long and features a total of 16 challenging corners, but it looks like the fight for tomorrow’s qualifying session will be as close as ever.

“It was a pretty good Friday”, said Kimi “and I’m quite happy with the feeling of the car. I think we have a pretty good base line to start from, it looks pretty good. The car has been quite straightforward since the beginning, so it easy to fine tune things. On one lap we had some traffic, I’m sure we could have gone faster. In the long run we never really got a proper idea due to the conditions: it started to rain and we had limited running, so it’s a bit tricky to know where we are. Today it was close, but then tomorrow who knows what the weather will be; things can change a lot from one day to the next”.

Seb commented: “I think at this track it is very important to find the right feeling with the car and its setup. The track is long and the tires struggle here. But, overall, I think we are quite close. However, the car is not yet where I want it to be. So, we are still looking at how we can improve. I think the SF71H has the pace, but you need to make sure it works. Today it’s been a mixed day and I think in the afternoon it was a bit better and I was a little bit happier. Hopefully tomorrow I’m going to be very happy!”

Alfa Romeo SauberF1:

After a successful race weekend in Bahrain, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team had another positive start to the third race weekend of the season at the Shanghai International Circuit. Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc completed two productive free practice sessions ahead of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix.

The team focused on tyre and set-up work, testing the medium and soft compounds during FP1, and the ultrasoft compound in FP2. With the rain starting to fall in the last ten minutes of the afternoon session, Marcus Ericsson completed his last lap on a set of intermediate tyres, in preparation for the possibility of rain during tomorrow’s qualifying. Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc feel confident, having shown consistent performance and a good pace on the medium and soft compounds. The team will now analyse the data, placing a focus on preparations for qualifying.

Marcus Ericsson; “It has been a productive day for us. We completed the planned programme for both practice sessions, and tested all three tyre compounds, in addition to doing set-up work. The characteristics of the Shanghai International Circuit are quite different compared to the tracks in Melbourne and Bahrain. Therefore, we explored how our new car behaves on this track, and focused on finding the ideal set-up for the race. We gathered some interesting data and will work overnight to make sure we move in the right direction and have a positive qualifying tomorrow.”

Charles Leclerc; “It was a productive day for us. It was the first time I had driven on this circuit, which is always an interesting experience. Learning a new track is a great way to continue developing as a driver and becoming more familiar with different challenges – such as the long straights and variety of corner combinations here in Shanghai. We were quite competitive on the soft and medium compounds this morning. We also completed some laps on the ultrasoft compound in the afternoon, and will be looking at our data to understand how to optimise our performance in tomorrow’s qualifying. I look forward to being back in the car tomorrow.”

Leading the way in FP1 was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, whose fast lap of 1:33.999 was .359 of a second better than the next quickest driver, Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen.

Hamilton remained atop FP2 with a mark of 1:33.482, which was a scant .007 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, Räikkönen. The Shanghai track record of 1:31.678, set last year by Hamilton in the final round of qualifying, remained intact.

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