Final practice - Heidfeld pips Hamilton for P1 18 Oct 2008
For the first time this weekend McLarens Lewis Hamilton did not top a practice session in Shanghai, but in the final run this morning he was only 0.074s slower than pacesetter Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber.
The German pipped the Englishman close to the end of an hour-long session in which the track temperature rose steadily from 27 degrees Celsius to 34. Heidfelds 1m 36.061s just shaded Hamiltons 1m 36.135s, while their respective team mates Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen were next up on 1m 36.150s and 1m 36.324s. The Finn had a minor off-track moment in Turn 15 at the end, while Hamilton at one stage reprised his 2007 adventure on the entry to the pit lane, this time avoiding the gravel as he overshot the turn.
Jarno Trulli jumped up to fifth with 1m 36.396s for Toyota, and yet again the times were very close all the way down to 16th place. Nico Rosberg was sixth on 1m 36.427s for Williams, then came Toro Rossos Sebastien Bourdais (1m 36.642s), Red Bulls David Coulthard (1m 36.712s), Williams Kazuki Nakajima (1m 36.713s), Renaults Nelson Piquet (1m 36.789s), Hondas Rubens Barrichello (1m 36.839s), Ferraris Felipe Massa (1m 36.842s) and Kimi Raikkonen (1m 36.901s), Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel (1m 36.902s), Hondas Jenson Button (1m 36.958s) and Renaults Fernando Alonso (1m 36.996s). Timo Glock was 17th on 1m 37.053s in the Toyota.
Coulthards performance was the only good news for Red Bull, as Mark Webbers Renault engine broke after he had recorded 1m 37.566s. The Australian now faces the prospect of a 10-place grid penalty this afternoon, having already played his engine-change joker back in Italy.
Behind him, in the last two positions, were the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil (1m 37.648s) and Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 37.964s).
Clearly there are some unusual times here, particularly the Ferraris and Alonso, but they are expected to be on the pace when qualifying kicks off this afternoon.