The Brit has won five times in China — including last year — and will be looking for his first victory of the season on Sunday. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the first two races in Australia and Bahrain, despite the Mercedes showing superior race pace in last both races.
Hamilton set a 1 minute, 33.999 seconds in the morning on the 5.451-kilometer circuit. In the afternoon he was slightly quicker with a time of 1:33.482.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was the second quickest in both sessions, and in the afternoon, he was only 0.007 behind Hamilton. Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was also in the mix — just 0.033s off his teammate — while Vettel remained in striking distance with a time 0.108s off Hamilton.
Vettel was sixth in the morning session but moved up to fourth in the evening session.
Max Verstappen 0.341s off Hamilton’s best effort and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was ninth fastest in the second – 1.075s off Hamilton.
Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz filled the gap between Verstappen in fifth and Ricciardo in ninth and were all within a second of Hamilton’s best effort as Renault and Haas look set for a close fight to be crowned best of the rest.
A light rain coated the track in the final minutes of the second session. The first session was dry despite the threat of rain on a chilly, windy day.
Rain is forecast for Saturday qualifying, with race day expected to be dry.