Lewis Hamilton top in second Chinese Grand Prix practice
|Chinese Grand Prix|
|Venue: Shanghai International Circuit. Date: 10-12 April|
|Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; text commentary on BBC Sport website; highlights on BBC One|
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was in a league of his own throughout Friday practice at the Chinese Grand Prix.
He was half a second clear of his closest rival, which was team-mate Nico Rosberg in the first session and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the second.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was third, from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Rosberg.
Williams's Felipe Massa had a scare when he spun at the end of the long back straight, causing minimal damage.
The Brazilian's car snapped sideways, due to a DRS overtaking aid problem, as Massa braked down from more than 200mph into the Turn 14 hairpin.
|Mercedes v Ferrari: Andrew Benson's practice analysis|
|Hamilton's average over his run was 0.7secs faster than Vettel's but it was noticeable that the Mercedes' tyres went off faster than the Ferrari's, just as was key in the German's victory in Malaysia two weeks ago.|
|Hamilton managed 11 flying laps before his times dropped off, while Vettel was able to continue for a further three. This could be an important advantage in the race for Ferrari.|
The car half-spun but suffered only a broken front wing and ruined tyres. The incident brought out the red flag while marshals recovered the car.
Apart from failing to record a time on his first run in the first session, as a result of locking a wheel and running wide at the hairpin, Hamilton thereafter looked imperious.
After setting the pace in first practice, Hamilton was quickest on the first runs in the second - by only 0.068secs from Rosberg - and then again on the qualifying simulation runs in the middle of the session, this time by 0.443secs from Raikkonen.
"There are things we can improve on but generally the car was feeling good," said Hamilton. "It was just nice to get the preparation in, which puts me in a good position for the weekend.
"The Ferraris look like they are just as quick as in the last race but hopefully we're quicker."
Rosberg's true pace was disguised because he made a mistake at the final corner of his run on the 'soft' tyre and lost what appeared to be about three quarters of a second. He had been about on a par with Raikkonen's time before making that error.
But on race pace it looked a little closer between Mercedes and Ferrari.
The two teams split their tyre strategies on their race runs in the second part of the session, Hamilton and Vettel initially running the soft tyre and Rosberg and Raikkonen the medium.
And while Hamilton was able to run half a second a lap or so faster than Vettel on the faster tyre, Raikkonen and Rosberg were very closely matched on the harder one.
Ricciardo's pace in third was encouraging for Red Bull after a disappointing showing in Malaysia last time out, when they were beaten by their own junior team, Toro Rosso.
The Australian also looked pretty competitive on race pace, suggesting Red Bull might have a chance of competing for a podium position.
|Andrew Benson's Chinese GP view|
|It may have the longest straight and, in Turn One, probably the longest corner on the F1 calendar, but the Shanghai International Circuit is more memorable for the smog that perpetually envelopes it than any of its physical characteristics.|
|It ticks the box of giving F1 a race in China - a requirement that in the modern world no self-respecting 'world' championship could do without - but inspirational it is not.|
|The track's standout feature is probably the back end of the paddock, where the vast concrete expanse behind the garages gives way to a series of pavilions dotted around a small lake, which the teams use as their offices for the grand prix weekend.|
|It's a lovely idea, and really quite attractive, but it can turn finding anyone to talk to into something of an odyssey.|
|Still, the place has thrown up some decent races in the past, and there is an element of exoticism about any trip to Shanghai.|
Ricciardo's team-mate, Daniil Kvyat, was sixth fastest but his session ended early with brake failure.
The left rear wheel was smoking as he left the pits and although the Russian tried to coax the car back around the lap, he lost all braking at the hairpin and crunched into the barriers, breaking the front wing.
Williams's Valtteri Bottas was seventh fastest, ahead of Sauber's Felipe Nasr, Lotus's Romain Grosjean and McLaren's Jenson Button, whose pace suggested a further step forward from his struggling team.
McLaren were able to mix it with the lower midfield runners throughout the day and may be in the running for a point or two, which would mark massive progress in the two races since the start of the season, when they were 1.5secs slower than the next slowest car.
Button's team-mate Fernando Alonso was 12th fastest, after not finding as much time on the 'soft' tyre as the Englishman.
Briton Will Stevens had a tough time in the Manor - he managed only seven laps before the team discovered a problem with the power unit and he was forced to stop running.