Hamilton leads Mercedes response

Published: Friday 10th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Lewis Hamilton suggested Mercedes will be back in control for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel conjured one of the biggest surprises for many a Formula One season with the team’s first victory for almost two years at the last race in Malaysia.

Many people expected another dominant Mercedes campaign in the wake of last season’s crushing success and thoroughly convincing win in the opening race in Australia.

Even Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff suggested Ferrari’s success was “a wake-up call” to his organisation.

Without doubt Mercedes responded in the first practice session ahead of the latest race at the Shanghai International Circuit, and none more so than reigning champion Hamilton.

A three-times winner at this track, including last season, Hamilton finished 0.541secs clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg, with a best lap of one minute 39.033secs.

None of their rivals even came close, with Vettel a further half a second adrift at 1:40.157secs, with his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 1.6secs down on Hamilton.

To underline Mercedes’ supremacy and the gap to Raikkonen, from the Finn in fourth to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in 18th, there was a difference of just 1.5secs.

Behind Mercedes and Ferrari, the best of the rest was Felipe Nasr in his Sauber, with the Brazilian rookie 1.979secs off the pace, whilst Daniel Ricciardo finished 1.996secs down for Red Bull.

No other driver came within two seconds of Hamilton, with Daniil Kvyat seventh for Red Bull, followed by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.

The Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa completed the top 10, 2.27secs adrift and split by a mere one thousandth of a second.

As for McLaren, Jenson Button was 13th and Fernando Alonso 17th, with the latter 3.128secs behind Hamilton, with even Jolyon Palmer ahead of him on his debut for Lotus.

Last year’s GP2 champion, serving as reserve with Lotus this season, was 15th and 2.934secs down, with highly-experienced team-mate Pastor Maldonado only 0.6secs ahead.

Manor pair Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi both enjoyed plenty of track time, completing 38 laps between them.

For young British rookie Stevens his 18 laps were crucial as he had so far failed to take part in either qualifying session or race in Australia and Malaysia.

Stevens finished 6.346secs behind Hamilton, with Merhi bringing up the rear another 1.1secs down.

Published: Friday 10th April 2015 by The News Editor

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