2014 Chinese GP Practice One: Fernando Alonso fastest but Hamilton hit by delays
New Ferrari chief Marco Mattiacci sees F14 T make encouraging start in Shanghai; Hamilton delayed by car imbalance; Rosberg second-quickest for Mercedes; Raikkonen completes just one lap in other Ferrari
By James Galloway in Shanghai. Last Updated: 18/04/14 10:29am
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso broke Mercedes' recent hegemony at the top of the Formula 1 timesheet by outpacing Nico Rosberg in Practice One for the Chinese GP.
On the morning Ferrari's newly-installed and little-known Team Principal Marco Mattiacci took up position at the underperforming Scuderia for the first time, Alonso became the first non-Mercedes driver to set the pace at the end of any session since he himself managed it in the very first P1 of 2014 back in Melbourne last month.
While the prospect of a sudden revival from the Italian team after their dire Bahrain is unlikely, despite the appearance of a new rear-wing on the F14 T, Alonso was nonetheless the only driver to break the 1:40 barrier (1:39.783) in a chilly opening session at smoggy Shanghai with Rosberg four tenths back in the lead Mercedes.
The Brackley-based outfit actually endured arguably their most problematic session of their dominant season so far as Rosberg was delayed by issues at the front of his W05 after the first runs and Lewis Hamilton completed just nine laps after reporting an 'imbalance' with his car. The Briton, chasing a hat-trick of victories this weekend, wound up eighth on the timesheet as Mercedes chose to fix the problem in time for Practice Two.
But with track temperatures barely breaking into the late-teens on Friday morning, the circuit was particularly slidy and not representative of what is likely to follow once the business end of the weekend begins.
In keeping with his strong start to the season relative to World Champion Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo maintained his growing presence towards the sharp end of the field with the third-quickest time for Red Bull ahead of Jenson Button (McLaren) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India). Kevin Magnussen was sixth in the second McLaren with Jean-Eric Vergne seventh for Toro Rosso.
But while one Ferrari driver enjoyed an encouraging morning, the other, Kimi Raikkonen, completed a solitary installation lap after problems at the front-end of his F14 T.
Lotus's Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvat had lurid spins respectively during a largely uneventful session, with the former's coming directly after he took his eye off the road to make an adjustment on his E22's steering wheel.
2014 Chinese GP, Practice One timesheet:
1) Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:39.783 20 laps
2) Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.181 +0.398 16 laps
3) Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:40.772 +0.989 23 laps
4) Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.970 +1.187 23 laps
5) Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.175 +1.392 16 laps
6) Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:41.366 +1.583 20 laps
7) Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:41.505 +1.722 26 laps
8) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.560 +1.777 9 laps
9) Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:41.629 +1.846 19 laps
10) Felipe Massa Williams 1:41.699 +1.916 14 laps
11) Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:41.977 +2.194 23 laps
12) Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.090 +2.307 24 laps
13) Felipe Nasr Williams 1:42.265 +2.482 13 laps
14) Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:42.615 +2.832 16 laps
15) Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.733 +2.950 13 laps
16) Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:43.731 +3.948 22 laps
17) Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:44.038 +4.255 16 laps
18) Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:44.162 +4.379 17 laps
19) Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:44.270 +4.487 7 laps
20) Max Chilton Marussia 1:44.782 +4.999 20 laps
21) Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:44.835 +5.052 22 laps
22) Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari No time 1 lap