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2018 F1

Chinese GP Practice Reports – Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton ends both practice sessions on top of the timesheets

Lewis set the fastest time in the morning, ending the session in P1 with Valtteri in P3

In FP2, Lewis again finished in P1 with Valtteri 0.033 seconds shy in P3

Both drivers ran the Soft compound tyres in FP1

In the afternoon, Lewis used the Soft and UltraSoft with Valtteri on the Medium and UltraSoft

Lewis Hamilton: When I got to Shanghai the weather was really good, but it’s gone downhill – now we got the rain and it’s cold. But it has been a good day, we got through all the laps that we needed and got some good feedback about the car. All the tyres here are quite similar in pace, so there’s not a big difference between them even though we have the double step between the Soft and the UltraSoft.

The balance of the car is good but we have some fine-tuning to do on it tonight. Ferrari were quick and Red Bull looked really fast on the long run. It’s good to see all the times so close, but it means that we really need to bring our A game. We need everyone in the team to be on it throughout the weekend because it is a joint effort.

Valtteri Bottas: It’s good that the rain didn’t come until the end of the session because the race is expected to be dry. The track improved a lot over the course of the day, even during the sessions. Lap after lap you could just feel more and more grip but that’s quite usual for this track. We’re expecting tomorrow morning to be a little bit trickier after the rain, and hopefully the conditions will improve for qualifying.

We had some issues with the balance in the morning; the car was quick, but it wasn’t easy to drive. We changed the set-up for FP2 and saw the lap times improve; hopefully we can make another step forward for tomorrow.. Overall, we got some good running and plenty of information, so I’m feeling all set for tomorrow. It looks like it will be extremely close again with Ferrari, both in qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday.

Andrew Shovlin: We’ve had a fairly normal Friday programme here, a few test items on the cars for the early running but mainly we have been focussed on understanding the car balance and the tyre behaviour for qualifying and the race. We only tried the Soft tyre during FP1 but the initial feedback from the drivers was quite encouraging and the car seemed to be working well. Shanghai is never an easy track to balance because there are so many different types of corner but overall we seemed to be in reasonable shape.

Free practice two saw us running all three tyres, both using UltraSoft but splitting the harder tyres so that Valtteri could focus on the Medium and Lewis on the Soft. We had concerns over the UltraSoft coming into this event but it was surprisingly consistent over the long runs and still going strong when we boxed both cars having seen the rain approaching on the radar. The Soft and Medium runs were cut short by the rain when it finally arrived although we managed to get a feel for the grip and balance and it seems that most of the other teams were also unable to complete their plans.

The conditions are very cool today, similar to winter testing, and that does change the way the tyres behave. We are expecting more mixed weather tomorrow and our normal qualifying preparation could be affected by a bit of rain in free practice three. However, for Sunday the current forecasts show the sun coming out and we should get a much hotter track. Some of the work tonight needs to focus on that change of temperature for the race, but even for the cool conditions we anticipate tomorrow, we have work to do on the balance to fine tune a few corners. It’s clear that ourselves, Red Bull and Ferrari are closely matched on pace and, as always, they will be improving their cars overnight so we will be working with our usual diligence to try and find every last bit of performance.

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