Alonso fastest in first Shanghai practice

Alonso fastest in first Shanghai practice

18 April 2014 – Fernando Alonso set the standard during Friday morning's opening free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver clocked a best time of 1:39.783 to lead Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg by just under four tenths, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was the last to get within a second of the pace.

Amid cold, overcast conditions, it was Rosberg who led the way in the early stages of the 90-minute outing, as the field began their respective weekend programmes on Pirelli's additional set of Medium tyres.

But Alonso – whose Ferrari team has been at the centre of attention ahead of the weekend – moved to the fore shortly after the 30-minute mark, a position he would hold until the end of the session.

It was a more difficult morning for Ferrari team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, who was sidelined with technical issues. The Finn could complete no more than an installation lap, and was the only driver without a time to his name.

Rosberg ultimately wound up 0.398 seconds adrift of Alonso, with Ricciardo a further six tenths back in third.

The McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen – running a special livery – were split by Force India's Nico Hülkenberg in fourth and sixth respectively, while Jean-Éric Vergne edged out Bahrain Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel to place his Toro Rosso machine seventh.

Felipe Massa completed the top ten for Williams, edging out Daniil Kvyat, who suffered a number of spins.

Romain Grosjean racked up a healthy number of laps in his Lotus, but the Enstone-based team again failed to make an impression on the timesheets, with team-mate Pastor Maldonado 1.6 seconds back in 16th place.

Williams reserve Felipe Nasr and Sauber counterpart Giedo van der Garde experienced their second practice outings of the season, ending the opening session of the weekend in respective 13th and 14th positions.

Kamui Kobayashi put his Caterham just ahead of Sauber's Esteban Gutiérrez, who missed the first hour of the session due to a clutch problem. The Japanese driver's rookie team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, recorded the slowest time, just behind the Marussias of Jules Bianchi – hindered by a fuel system issue – and Max Chilton.

Friday's second practice session at Shanghai gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +8)

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