Lewis Hamilton finishes ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in second free practice in China
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 13, 2018 Updated: 2:09 AM PT
SHANGHAI, China — Under the gray skies of the Shanghai International Circuit, Lewis Hamilton backed up his strong finish in the first practice session of the Chinese Grand Prix by beating out Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by 0.007s.
The paper thin margin may be a sign of things to come in Saturday’s qualifying. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas repeated his FP1 finish this time just 0.026s behind his fellow countryman.
“Today it was close, but then tomorrow who knows what the weather will be; things can change a lot from one day to the next,” said Raikkonen.
Mixed conditions with rain in the closing minutes saw teams run though a mix of tire compounds including intermediates as more rain is expected tomorrow.
A further 0.108s down the lineup was Sebastian Vettel followed by Max Verstappen. Verstappen finished fifth and was 0.341s off Hamilton’s time as Red Bull are hoping to pick up the pieces from last and fight for pole tomorrow.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg ended the day sixth with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who may be set for a another strong qualifying result, finishing in seventh. Magnussen started things off on the medium tire (White band) before switching over to the ultrasoft (Purple band) to finish out the session.
Hulkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz took seventh ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in eighth in the second Red Bull. Ricciardo and the team are hoping to find the answers this weekend that will lead them to fight at the front of the grid.
“Generally with the harder compounds I was more comfortable, but once we put the ultrasoft on we didn’t have as much speed so we need to find a bit of time there and understand where we are losing. I obviously know what doesn’t feel right in the car, but now we need to find the answers and change that for tomorrow,” said Riccardo.
Fernando Alonso finished out the top ten 0.160s ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez in 11th. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, continuing the team’s aero work and run program, ended the day in 12th.
Esteban Ocon took 13th with Stoffel Vandoorne in 14th, but Vandoorne ran into trouble during a practice pit-stop when his right rear wheel was not secured.
Brendon Hartley became the second driver on the grid to have a paper thin margin as he finished 0.007s ahead of Williams' rookie Sergey Sirotkin in 16th. Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson fell victim to the wet conditions after running wide at Turn 6 before finishing 17th. Teammate Charles Leclerc finished 18th. Romain Grosjean, ran an opposite run program from his teammate Kevin Magnussen, to finish 19th.
Lance Stroll finished out the bottom of the order in 20th. With mixed weather conditions and a chance of rain tomorrow, teams will be working out strategies to prepare for what may be a very unpredictable weekend.