The first practice sessions for the UBS Chinese Grand Prix took place today at a cool Shanghai International Circuit.
Lewis experienced a mechanical problem with the rear suspension in first practice that limited his running. He ended the day at the top of the timesheets, posting a time of 1:38.315 on his first flying lap on the soft tyres in the second session.
Nico finished in P2 during the first session and P3 in the second session, just short of the times posted by Fernando Alonso in P1 and P2 respectively.
Both drivers will run with new Power Units this weekend after completing their first cycle during the opening three race weekends.
It was quite a difficult day today as we missed some of this morning's session which put us on the back foot slightly, but we were glad to get some laps in the second session at least. We're not too happy with the balance of the car at the moment, so we need to go and work on that. This circuit is particularly hard on tyres, as it has been every year, so we need to be prepared for that. A few of the other teams look to have improved in terms of pace, which is great as it means we will have a fight. There's a lot of work to do and the guys are already here early and working late, but I'm confident that we can make some improvements going into tomorrow.
It's a unique weekend here in China; normally we struggle with rear tyre wear but here it seems to be the front tyres that I struggle with. You have so many long corners; you are just waiting and waiting and waiting to finish the corners. There is a lot of energy spent adapting to this situation. There is a need to be creative and look at the set-up, because graining can be very bad. We are still looking good performance wise, in terms of one-lap pace and on the long runs. But other teams were watching us and pushing a lot as we saw with Fernando today. I guess that my main rival for a win will again be my teammate, so I'm looking forward to the next in-house battle.
This is a circuit where the performance is limited by the front tyres, which was limiting our overall performance. Nico ran a solid programme but Lewis lost some of the morning and afternoon sessions with a suspension problem, which put him behind the curve. In spite of this, I am still pleased with our level of performance but we certainly saw a more closed up field today because of the graining factor.
On Lewis' side of the garage, we experienced a mechanical problem with the rear suspension in first practice. Once we had diagnosed this, we decided to end his session early because it required us to remove the gearbox. The guys did a great job over lunch to make the necessary changes and get him back out with minimal loss of track time. Nico completed his programme without any major issues today and P2 ran to plan with both cars, completing our information gathering with both types of tyre for qualifying and the race. However, both drivers are finding it tricky to get a good balance around this circuit, which has some challenging characteristics, so we have some more work to do overnight in order to improve further.
Mercedes AMG Petronas