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Live Reporting

Jamie Strickland

All times stated are UK

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  1. Cheerio and thanks for your company

    Always end with some good stats I say, and I think we've done that.

    Returning to more pertinent matters, it was a very good day for Lewis Hamilton as he claimed his 41st career pole position with an impressive performance at the wheel of the Mercedes.

    The double world champion topped every practice session in Shanghai on his way to pole, with team-mate Nico Rosberg trailing unhappily in his wake.

    The gap to the Ferraris also looks ominous, but should tyre management come into play in a significant way tomorrow, then the scarlet cars could threaten Hamilton's dominance.

    We'll be back with you from 05:30 BST to see what transpires.

  2. Senna: the one-lap master

    Ayrton Senna, when not being eyeballed at close quarters by Alan Pardew's old man (see 09:42), was a demon at the old pole postion game.

    He got 65 of them in 162 races, a strike rate of 40.37%. Michael Schumacher's record of 68 was achieved in 308 outings, a 22.15% success record.

    Senna's poles were rather more spread around the circuits of the world - 20 to be precise - but he scored five at both Monza and Monaco, six in Adelaide and eight at Imola, the track that claimed his life in 1994.

    He was on pole for that fateful race, of course.

    Ayrton Senna secured the qualifying record with McLaren
    Ayrton Senna secured the record while at McLaren
  3. Fangio's fantastic five

    Juan Manuel Fangio gives good stat.

    He raced in just 51 grands prix (admittedly at a time when there were far fewer races in a season), but won 24 of those (47.06%), claiming 29 pole positions (56.86%), 23 fastest laps (45.10%) and 35 podiums (68.63%). All of that combined made him a five-time world champion.

    By comparison his return of five poles at just one venue seems modest - yet it's enough to earn him a place among this small but happy band of record-holders.

    His five poles came at Monza, while he also managed four at Spa-Francorchamps, Reims and Monaco.

    Juan Manuel Fangio at Monza in 1970
    Juan Manuel Fangio at Monza in 1957
  4. Journey with us now into the stat cave...

    We told you earlier that Lewis Hamilton is now in an elite group of four men who can claim to have taken pole position at least five times at one particular F1 track.

    In the case of one of those men, Michael Schumacher, the feat was achieved at no fewer than six tracks.

    The seven-time world champion took five poles at both Imola and Sepang, six at Montreal, seven at Barcelona and the Hungaroring, and a mildly staggering eight at Suzuka.

    Michael Schumacher at Suzuka
    Michael Schumacher at Suzuka
  5. Post update

    Romain Grosjean on Twitter: BOOM, P8 for #8 in Quali today. Great job from my guys to setup the car! Let's bring points tomorrow

    Grosjean helmet
  6. Post update

    Mercedes on Twitter: Chatting through a Shanghai stunner with David Coulthard & Suzi Perry for @bbcf1: what a lap it was from Lewis Hamilton!

    You'll be able to watch this interview in our highlights show at 13:00 BST on BBC One...

    Hamilton, Perry & Coulthard
  7. Hamilton's Shanghai dominance ranks with greats

    Today's result marks Lewis Hamilton's fifth pole in China, which means he joins Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio in the only drivers to score five or more poles at one particular track.


    Special mention to our social media guru Joel Goldman who sent me this picture of Ayrton Senna along with the caption: "Alan Pardew's dad, furthest right."

  8. Vettel happy with P3

    Sebastian Vettel, who starts in third, said: "Happy with today - it was a different strategy for us today in Q3, going only once on used set. Mercedes were quicker than expected - P3 was the maximum we could have expected today.

    "Hopefully tomorrow will be closer - we're looking forward to going racing - it's not far to turn one. And it's a track where tyres are important."

    Sebastian Vettel after China qualifying
  9. Rosberg frustrated by small gap to pole

    Asked whether he was frustrated at not taking pole, Nico Rosberg said: "Definitely, yeah. When it's four hundredths... that's nothing. I'm frustrated because it's so close."

    Nico Rosberg looks dejected after qualifying
  10. 'It's not over by all means'

    Lewis Hamilton on pole in China

    Lewis Hamilton is understandably a satisfied man after that performance, but the memory of Ferrari's win in Malaysia is still very much on his mind.

    "China is continuing to be generally a good circuit for me," he said. "The car is handling fantastically well this weekend, a lot better compared to how it was in Malaysia."

    Asked what lessons had been learned after Sepang, the Mercedes driver said: "There's too many to mention but obviously it wasn't the tidiest weekend for us.

    "For us on my side of the garage, we've tried to get our full programme in, we've not had any problems this weekend. We've still a tough race ahead because the Ferraris are good on long-run pace, so it's not over by any means."

  11. Post update

    Fernando Alonso on Twitter: Fantastic work of the whole team to get the car ready for the Qualy! Again, big progress on the car from Malaysia! #GoodTimesComing

    Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis
  12. Get involved - #bbcf1

    James Weir: Someone had their shreddies for breakfast Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the third time in 3 yrs in China

    Luper Daniel: #ChineseGP The Prancing Horse of Vettel simply won't go away. Seems we fixing for another good fight tomorrow.

    Wycliffe Alwal: That McLaren who were championship contenders just a few years ago are only faster than Marussia in China qualifying is worrying.

  13. Here's your full top 10

    Note the gap of nine tenths of a second between the quickest Mercedes and quickest Ferrari.

    1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 1m35.782s

    2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) - 1m35.824s

    3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 1m36.687s

    4. Felipe Massa (Williams) - 1m36.954s

    5. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) - 1m37.143s

    6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 1m37.232

    7. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 1m37.540s

    8. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) - 1m37.905s

    9. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) - 1m38.067s

    10. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) - 1m38.158s

  14. Tighter than it might have been

    Although Lewis Hamilton looked mighty today, it's worth noting that he was unable to improve on his final lap, allowing team-mate Nico Rosberg to close to within 0.04secs on his last flyer.

    "Oh come on, guys," was Rosberg's response when told of the gap over the team radio.

    Still, it was enough for the reigning champion to earn his 41st career pole position.

    Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
  15. Pole position to Lewis Hamilton

    That walloping lap from Lewis Hamilton has unsurprisingly secured pole for the Mercedes man.

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg will start second ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

  16. Five minutes to go...

    ... and the battle looks very much to be over for pole.

    Who will be third? Felipe Massa's Williams is the present incumbent but those Ferraris are sniffing around.

  17. Into the 1:35s goes Hamilton

    You can pretty much stick a fork in this qualifying session.

    Lewis Hamilton has just done a 1:35.782. A thumping, trouser-trembling time.

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg, as he seems to have done for much of the weekend, trails by three tenths.

  18. Meanwhile, in beard news...

    Williams on Twitter: Felipe Massa has switched to a lower downforce facial hair setup for today

    Goatee? Gawn.

    Massa China
  19. Green light

    Q3 is off and running.

    How fast can you go, Lewis?

  20. Post update

    McLaren on Twitter: Both cars back in the garage and being prepped for parc ferme. Progress has been made but there's still a lot of work to do

  21. Get involved - #bbcf1

    Jeremiah Kariuki: Saubers have as well improved and their rookie driver proving he can be a champion in the making.

    Gareth Jones: Ron Dennis: "Eric, get on the phone to Manor - let's use *their* cars next race"

    Simon Latson: Whilst I want them to do well, McLaren have produced more lemons in recent years than the man from Del Monte.

  22. Q2 times

    China Q2
  23. Top 10 challengers

    So, the line up for Q3 is:

    1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Nico Rosberg 3. Sebastian Vettel 4. Kimi Raikkonen 5. Felipe Massa 6. Valtteri Bottas 7. Daniel Ricciardo 8. Felipe Nasr 9. Romain Grosjean 10. Marcus Ericsson

  24. Prove me wrong why don't you?

    Wow, I did not see that coming from Sauber.

    Having declared them dead and buried in my last post they are BOTH through to the top-10 shoot out.

    Out instead goes Pastor Maldonado of Lotus in P11, Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull in 12th, the Toro Rossos of Max Verstapoen and Carlos Sainz in 13th and 14th and the Force India of Sergio Perez in 15th.

  25. Who's going to miss out on top 10?

    Just seconds remain in Q2 and you have to say it looks like Sauber are struggling. Who will join them in elimination?

  26. Third and fourth for Ferrari

    The Ferraris have posted their times for Q2 and they are good.

    Sebastian Vettel does a 1:36.9 - just two tenths off Nico Rosberg.

    Kimi Raikkoen is not all that far behind in fourth.

  27. Ferrari playing it cool

    Still no Ferraris on track in Q2. The scarlet cars were quickest in Q1 and should be on the board soon.

  28. Ooof - Hamilton lays down a marker

    OK, Q2 has just got serious with Lewis Hamilton strapping on the soft tyres and banging in a 1:36.423. The quickest time of the weekend by some way.

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg is three tenths back.

    Job done for Mercedes.

  29. Button: 'Qualifying just wasn't for us'

    "The car didn't feel bad so it's interesting when you find a good balance but the lap time is not there," McLaren's Jenson Button tells BBC Radio 5 live.

    "We've made good improvements this weekend but qualifying just wasn't for us. I'm relatively happy with the balance.

    "Hopefully we'll be racing the cars in front tomorrow, but we hoped to be competing with them in qualifying as well."

    Jenson Button during qualifying
  30. Get involved - #bbcf1

    Rich Carey: Great job McLaren

    Peter N. Wanyonyi: Wonder whether Jenson Button still thinks Lewis Hamilton made a mistake moving to Mercedes

    Clint Bubba O'Neil: Growing pains for McLaren-Honda? Once again, Alonso and Button fail to qualify for Q2??!!! Brutal!

  31. Costly twitch for Alonso?

    A reply has shown Fernando Alonso had a very twitchy moment on his final qualifying lap. It cost him a couple of tenths - more a less the amount he missed out on the top 15.

  32. Q1 times

  33. Both McLarens out in Q1 - again

    An unwanted hat-trick for McLaren - both cars are out in Q1 again, as they were in Australia and Malaysia.

    This continues the team's worst run of qualifying form since the current system was adopted in 2006.

    The Force India of Nico Hulkenberg joins the McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in being eliminated, along with the Manors of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

    McLaren boss Ron Dennis
  34. Chequered flag

  35. Post update

    Formula 1 on Twitter: #Q1 SPEED TRAP (13min): Mercedes ahead of Ferrari, who had dominated FP

    Speed trap Q1
  36. Who's in the danger zone?

    With two minutes left, our Q1 drop outs are the Manors of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz.

  37. Williams on soft-tyre runs

    No nonsense from the Williams boys. The team have bolted on the soft tyres to be absolutely sure of getting through to Q2.

    Seems overly cautious but I guess you can never be too careful.

    Valtteri Bottas is currently second with Felipe Massa fourth.

    Massa in qualifying
  38. Post update

    Lotus on Twitter: In the top ten mid way through the session

    Lotus China qualifying
  39. McLaren team radio

    Jenson Button: "The rears are overheating towards the end of the lap."

    Button is currently in eighth, 1.6secs off the pace. Team-mate Alonso has dropped to 10th.

  40. Alonso posts a time

    Fernando Alonso is on the board with a 1:40.327 on the soft tyre. He's eighth right now. Remember, the McLarens need 15th or better to make it through to Q2 for the first time in 2015.

  41. Post update

    Force India on Twitter: Nico jumps into P3 with 1:39.324 with his first attempt, Checo continues on track

    Nico Hulkenberg
  42. Post update

    Mercedes on Twitter: Crikey! 1:38.2 for Mr H. And it's a 1:38.5 for Mr R. P1 and P2 for now. #F1inChina

  43. Post update

    Red Bull Racing on Twitter: Getting set for quali. Daniel Ricciardo gets in the zone, ready to take it to the track!

    Daniel Ricciardo
  44. Get involved - #bbcf1

    Lilliana Lulli: Hoping #Ferrari can at least split those #Mercedes' Put on softs and GO GO GO boys!!

    Rob: Ham, Ros and Vet top 3 and Button to make Q2 finishing 13th

    Nita Lewsey: I won't see quali live but hoping the highlights show The Champ on pole- Go Lewis

  45. Focus on McLaren in Q1

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "The focus in the first part of qualifying will be on McLaren-Honda, who for the first time this season have the hope of getting through it into Q2. But if one of their drivers is to manage it, you would have to say it would be more likely to be Jenson Button.

    "Fernando Alonso, for all his ability, is on the back foot, having missed all of final practice because of an engine problem. The car is ready to go after the team fixed what they say was an ignition system problem. But Alonso, with no running today, will have his work cut out."

    Fernando Alonso
  46. Green light

    Qualifying is under way.

    McLaren's Fernando Alonso is straight on track so that problem from FP3 has been cured. Good to see.

  47. Buttons, buttons everywhere

    Sauber have tweeted a picture of the handsome C34's steering wheel.

    Complicated, no?

    Sauber steering column
  48. Keep an eye out for our highlights show

    Suzi Perry, Tom Clarkson, Jennie Gow & Jack Nicholls will be your team for qualifying highlights at 13:00 BST on BBC One.

    That's our line-up, but how will they be lining up on the grid?

    BBC F1
  49. What the papers say

    The Telegraph's F1 spread 11.4.15

    The Daily Telegraph has a nice story in which Sebastian Vettel reveals he would have loved to have spoken to Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher - currently recovering from a serious head injury - before moving from Red Bull to the Scuderia.

  50. What the papers say

    Daily Mail F1 page Saturday 10 April

    The Daily Mail says Nico Rosberg has been told by Mercedes advisor Niki Lauda to up his game in the title battle with Lewis Hamilton.

  51. Post update

    Nico Rosberg on Twitter: Thanks so much for your support here in China!!!

    Nico Rosberg China fans
  52. Just to mark your card...

    We have a great deal of The Sport for you this weekend, as you might be aware.

    Here's a selection of what's to come today.

    There's the small matter of the Premier League too, don't forget. 'Mon the Tigers.

  53. Edwin Moses says hi

    Two-time 400m hurdles Olympic champion Edwin Moses is in the paddock today, meetin' and a greetin'. Here he is with Nico Rosberg, and below that in his prime. (He definitely had better glasses back in 1988.)

    I'll be honest, athletics is not my strong suit so I'll just wrap up this entry up now.

    Nico Rosberg and Ed Moses
    Edwin Moses at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul
  54. Get involved - #bbcf1

    Kayleigh Gray: Going for Vet, Ham, Ros. And Button into Q2.

    Mike Costello: Ferrari won't get close to the Mercs again this season. After this weekend, the fuss will die down and it will be business as usual

    Daniel: #FP3 leader's going to take pole again

    Keep your qualifying predictions coming in via #bbcf1.

  55. It was 22 years ago today....

    ... that Ayrton Senna produced one of the most memorable opening laps of all time in the wet at Donington Park.

    The McLaren driver famously went from fifth to first in one lap, dispatching the Benetton of Michael Schumacher and then the Sauber of Karl Wendlinger in the opening turns, before making short work of Williams duo Alain Prost and Damon Hill.

    What a great season 1993 was. Indeed it was enough to get a certain BBC live text goon hooked on the sport for life.

    Ayrton Senna leads from Damon Hill
    Ayrton Senna
  56. Get involved - #bbcf1

    Jeremiah Kariuki: Pretty shameful that Alonso is having to experience all these problems with McLaren. Not even setting a lap time in FP3!

    Ipkw: Looking good for qualifying! All the best Lewis!

    Jash Nyash: Looking forward to the race. It surely will be one hell of a cracker with tyre wear & strategy in the mix; the show is on!

  57. Post update

    Sauber on Twitter: Check out this stunning and unique view from the #F1 #PaddockClub here at the #ChineseGP

    Paddock Club, shanghai

    £3,500 or thereabouts will get you a three-day Paddock Club ticket in Shanghai, where the catering's good, the views are better and the bonsai trees grow particularly wonkily.

  58. Will we get a full house in Q1?

    We are yet to get all 20 cars out in Q1 in 2015, a stat that could roll over today if the tech trouble at McLaren is truly serious.

    The main culprits this year have been Manor, who did not get out at all in Australia as their Windows 7 wasn't compatible (or something) while in Malaysia the car of Will Stevens didn't hit the track in qualifying due to a fuel system issue.

    Both Stevens and team-mate Roberto Merhi have run OK so far in Shanghai, with the Briton posting a time well inside 107% Lewis Hamilton's benchmark in FP3.

    Manor Marussia driver Will Stevens
  59. Sitting down on the job

    No McLaren has progressed from the first part of qualifying this year and their prospects of doing so today took a hit with an engine failure for Fernando Alonso early in final practice.

    The team have been working hard to fix the problem but even if Alonso gets out, will the lost time in FP3 be too damaging?

    Posting the 10th and 12th quickest times on Friday will give hope to Alonso and team-mate Jenson Button, but that will count for nothing if they bow out in Q1 yet again.

    Fernando Alonso
  60. And you're back in the room

    Ok, 60 minutes 'til this Chinese Grand Prix malarkey gets down to some real business.

    Qualifying looms.

    Who'll be the winners and losers? You'll find out here.

    Lewis Hamilton
  61. Ciao for now

    Ok, the live text commentary boffins are going to take five (well, more like 50).

    We'll be back with you at 07:00 BST for the build-up to the qualifying hour, where Lewis Hamilton looks every inch the man to beat.

    We'll see you then.

    Read Andrew Benson's final practice report.

  62. Full times from FP3
  63. Leading times from FP3

    So, a quick look at the top five at the end of final practice.

    1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:37.615

    2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:37.841

    3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:38.313

    4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:38.512

    5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:39.020

    Lewis Hamilton
  64. Red Bull's engine troubles

    Former Cosworth boss Mark Gallagher tells BBC Sport: "If Red Bull bothered to go up the road, they'd find a company capable of making a competitive engine."

    For the record, Cosworth are based in Northampton... 20 miles up the road from Red Bull's Milton Keynes headquarters.

    Christian Horner and Dr Helmut Marko
  65. Chequered flag

  66. Engine woes for Kvyat

    Another blow for Red Bull-Renault relations.

    Daniil Kvyat reports a loss of power and trundles back to the pits.

  67. Post update

    Jolyon Palmer on Twitter: had a nice chat with Lee McKenzie for BBC

    Yes you did, Jolyon. And it's available to watch right here (UK users only)

    Jolyon Palmer Lee McKenzie
  68. Get involved - #bbcf1

    Farid Kipirash: Alonso's patience ran out at the worst possible time. Now Vettel looks pretty good in that red car.

    Michael T: If Alonso was at Ferrari that car wouldn't be the same. The setup on Ferrari wouldn't suit Alonso so it would've been developed differently

    Mark Fullerton: Alonso's woes..He would be about the same as Vettel.. Not #1 in standing so might as well be developing the McHonda

  69. Hamilton looking ominous

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Lewis Hamilton has always loved the Shanghai track. Its unique demands make the front tyres the most heavily worked, which in turns means it is necessary to set the car up to protect them, and therefore with a slightly oversteery balance - which, as it happens, is how he likes to drive.

    "It was no surprise, then, that Hamilton looked fantastic on track in his Mercedes in China on Friday, and appeared streets ahead not only of every other team, but also his own team-mate Nico Rosberg.

    "There was even a hint of his cast-iron confidence that he is the better driver at Mercedes when he said: 'It is quite close between us and Ferrari and Nico is quite quick as well.' On a track on which he has won more times than anyone else, few would bet against Hamilton maintaining that form."

    Lewis Hamilton
  70. Post update

    Manor F1 on Twitter: Roberto's 'lucky egg' equivalent - getting in the cockpit from the left.

    Roberto Mehri
  71. Times tumbling

    The soft tyres are going on the cars now and the times are coming down accordingly.

    Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat was first to change to the yellow-walled soft and briefly went quickest, but the Mercedes followed suit and restored the order at the summit.

    Nico Rosberg vaulted to the top of the order with a 1:37.841, but team-mate Lewis Hamilton has just lowered the mark again with a lap two tenths quicker.

  72. Uncomfortable questions for Honda

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "As Fernando Alonso sits in the McLaren garage watching the mechanics trying to work out what made his engine stop after two corners of his out lap, it's hard to avoid an uncomfortable thought about Honda's return to F1.

    "They clearly were not ready to race at the start of this season. So you have to ask a couple of awkward questions: 1) why did they not delay their debut by a year, given that they only started working on the engine in 2013, and did they underestimate the task? 2) Why on earth did they not stick the engine in the back of a Formula Nippon car (or even a three-year-old F1 car) and pound round and round Suzuka, which Honda owns, until it was sorted?"

  73. Top speeds in FP3 so far

    speed trap China
  74. Post update

    Mercedes on Twitter: Latest track and air: 23C, 33C. That sounds more like it

  75. More on Red Bull

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Friday was a much better day for Red Bull, who have endured a sobering start to the season. A poor first race, and an even worse second one have led to team owner Dietrich Mateschitz to threaten (again) to quit F1 if Renault cannot produce a competitive engine.

    Daniel Ricciardo

    "It's not all Renault's fault, though. Chief engineer Paul Monaghan admitted on Friday that the Red Bull car "probably lacks a bit of downforce". Which must be the first time that could be said for six years. Quite why is not completely clear - Adrian Newey was still very heavily involved in the 2015 car despite the much-vaunted 'stepping back' into an advisory role.

    "Anyway, Daniel Ricciardo set a decent-looking one-lap pace, and was right with the Ferraris on the long runs, too. A challenge for the podium looks on the cards."

  76. Brake trouble for Ricciardo

    Brake problems for Daniel Ricciardo it seems.

    His car has just been wheeled back into the Red Bull garage with smoke pouring from his rear tyres, the BBC's Tom Clarkson reports.

    The Australian is currently sitting in ninth place, 1.343secs off the quickest time.

  77. In the Mercedes hot seat

    Lewis Hamilton has been on the radio to complain about his seat getting over-heated.

    Hamilton's seat was pictured earlier in the week with a gold heat-reflective panel on one side, to protect the driver from heat coming from the car's Ers system.

    We've just seen Hamilton's spare seat being put into his car. Handily, the BBC's very own Tom Clarkson snapped a picture of that very same spare seat yesterday.

    Hamilton's seat
  78. Button back on track


    Whatever the problem was with Jenson Button's McLaren, it seems to be fixed now.

    The Briton has got back out on the track and has pumped in a time just a shade under two seconds off the benchmark set by Lewis Hamilton, good for ninth.

  79. FP3 no guide to qualifying form

    Here's a stat for you, stat fans.

    The driver topping FP3 only took pole seven times in 19 rounds in 2014.

    So, whatever happens over the remaining 35 minutes or so is not necessarily going to be a guide to qualifying later today.

  80. Top three after 20 minutes

    1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:39.776

    2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +0.279

    3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.399

  81. Get involved - #bbcf1

    On Fernando Alonso's woes...

    Darren Inc: Damn.... Wonder what he would be like in this year's Ferrari

    Keep your comments coming on this or any F1 topic. We'll publish as many as we can.

    Get in touch on Twitter (#bbcf1) via Facebook or by visiting our Google+ page

  82. Drivers' championship standings after two rounds

  83. McLaren analysis

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    Writing before McLaren's FP3 trouble, Andrew Benson had this to say about the team's current situation.

    "McLaren have too illustrious a history to get very excited about 10th and 12th fastest times in free practice - especially when the drivers in question are as good as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. Nonetheless, this marked another huge step forward for the team this season; they have gone from five seconds off the pace - and 1.5secs slower than any other running car - in Australia to 'just' two in China, just two races later. And the drivers now have realistic hopes of getting into second qualifying.

    Fernando Alonso

    "'We need to have the feet on the ground,' Alonso said, 'and understand that on Saturday normally the others put some extra power. So I don't think that maybe Q3 is possible but definitely Q2 is the goal for tomorrow and finishing the race maybe close to the points. It was a very positive day so very happy.'

    "Button, meanwhile, said the car was 'a pleasure to drive'. And the midfield teams such as Lotus and Sauber are already looking around nervously at McLaren in the expectation that their days in front of their grandee rivals are running out."

  84. Trouble for Button too

    Fernando Alonso's team-mate Jenson Button also has problems.

    He is informed on the team radio that "the issue is not fixed, so be careful".

    Troubling times down at McLaren, who looked OK on Friday with the cars finishing 10th and 12th.

    Jenson Button
  85. Alonso stops after just two corners

    Bad start for McLaren-Honda and Fernando Alonso.

    The Spaniard's car made it through just two corners before grinding to a halt with an engine problem.

    No red flag; covered off with yellows.

    Alonso China
  86. Get involved - #bbcf1

    c h o o l w e: Zambia 5am, alarm just went off, coffee at the ready...let's go #FP3

  87. Green light

    Third practice for the Chinese Grand Prix is under way.

    Sepang winner Sebastian Vettel is straight out on track in the Ferrari.

  88. Post update

    Carlos Sainz Jr

    Toro Rosso on Twitter: Car is looking good isn't it Carlos!? Yep, go on, in you get, it's #FP3 time!! 10 mins to green light, ni hao!!

  89. Friday recap

    Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was in a league of his own throughout Friday practice.

    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.

  90. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton on Twitter: My amazing fans that came to see me this morning, all wearing my caps!

    Lewis Hamilton fans
  91. Questions remain over Merc tyre management

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Ferrari won in Malaysia thanks largely to their ability to preserve their tyres better than Mercedes, allied to a pace good enough to enable them to translate that into a race-long challenge. And there were hints on Friday that this may become a running theme this season.

    "While Lewis Hamilton was on average 0.7secs a lap quicker than Kimi Raikkonen on their soft-tyres race simulation runs, the Ferrari hung on to its tyres better.

    "Hamilton was showing significant drop-off after 11 laps; Raikkonen was still going strong after 14. How this will play out on Sunday is a fascinating question."

    Kimi Raikkonen
  92. Post update

    Lotus on Twitter: Some people can sleep anywhere... #WellJealous

    Lotus sleep China
  93. Ferrari title is 'not realistic' - Allison

    While we fans are all desperately hoping Mercedes doesn't run and hid in 2015, Ferrari technical boss James Allison admits it is "not realistic" for the team to think about beating the world champions to the title despite Sebastian Vettel's victory in the last race .

    The German is three points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes after two races.

    Allison said: "Mercedes have a bit more horsepower and a bit more downforce. Until we have closed those two gaps, it's not realistic to talk about title challenges."

    James Allison
  94. 2015 yet to fully reveal its secrets

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "This Formula 1 season is giving up its secrets slowly so far, but tantalising they are nonetheless. Lewis Hamilton has upped his game in 2015, it seems, but so too have Ferrari, and Friday in Shanghai hinted that the lessons of Malaysia two weeks ago may have some longevity.

    "Meanwhile, Red Bull look back in the game after a couple of bad races, and how long will it be before McLaren-Honda are up there, too?

    "Lots to look forward to - both this weekend and over the remaining 16 races."

    Lewis Hamilton
  95. Welcome along

    Hello hello.

    It's fair to say this ranks as one hell of a weekend for us sports fans, and what better way to kick it all off than with 20 cars having a good blat around the Shanghai International Circuit.

    In a few hours' time we should have a slightly clearer picture as to whether Ferrari's Malaysia win was just a wrinkle in Mercedes's season or a genuine threat to the world champions.

    Should be good viewing. Strap in.