Valtteri Bottas set the pace once again in Shanghai for Mercedes and a serious crash by Alexander Albon prematurely ended the first Saturday session.
The championship leader managed to take first for the second session in a row being followed by Sebastian Vettel yet again. His good form at the Shanghai International Circuit continued with him setting the fastest lap time of the weekend, a time that went under the 1m33s barrier.
His time was 1m32.830s, enough to create a three tenth buffer to second place Sebastian Vettel, both driver’s times being set on the softest of the three Pirelli tyre offerings, the red striped softs.
In third came Charles Leclerc, while in yet another disappointing session Lewis Hamilton only managed fourth, once again failing to get a proper flying lap simulation test on the soft compound tyres.
Vettel had a little incident by missing the final corner on his fast lap, which suggests his fastest lap time could have been even faster, but, while Vettel only lost time, in a similar mistake, Alexander Albon lost complete control of his Toro Rosso which ended up hitting the barriers hard in a crash which will see him missing today’s Qualifying session and starting the race in last place. Thankfully Albon came out ok from the quite violent incident.
The crash saw the Red Flag being waved and the premature ending of the session. The driver’s final order being decided approximately 8 minutes before the pre-established session end.
Hulkenberg took a great fifth for Renault in another encouraging results for the French team. Raikkonen took sixth for Sauber ahead Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who only managed seventh, not getting the chance to go out for a flying lap on the soft tyres. On the other hand, things looked even worse for Red Bull, Pierre Gasly not even managing to get into the top 10. The Frenchman only managed P15 and things are not looking great for Red Bull so far in China.
Carlos Sainz finished P8 for McLaren in another great result for the British team, while the top 10 was filled out by the two Toro Rosso drivers. Alexander Albon took P9, however his big crash will be the main takeaway for the Scuderia today. P10 went to Kvyat.
Foto-credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1