Practice One - Button on top after Buemi scare 16 Apr 2010
Friday morning's first practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix was brought to a spectacular halt with just over six minutes remaining when Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso suffered a remarkable double front-suspension failure as he braked over the bump for Turn 14 at the end of the main straight. As both front wheels were torn off with the car still travelling in a straight line, the Swiss driver became a passenger as his car tobogganed into light contact with the outer barrier. The left front wheel was tossed into a spectator area, but fortunately nobody was hit by it.
Subsequent investigation by Toro Rosso revealed that an undiagnosed problem with the suspensions front right upright - a new design introduced in China - had triggered the incident. When the right upright failed, the resulting increase in load is thought to have caused the left upright to fail. The wheel tethers, which are attached to the uprights, were thus unable to do their job. The team will revert to previously tested uprights for the remainder of the weekend on both their cars.
For much of the session the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton set the pace until they were split by Nico Rosberg's Mercedes, and when the session resumed for a brief few final moments after the Buemi red flag the only leading runner to improve significantly was Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes.
Thus Button was fastest with 1m 36.677s from Rosberg on 1m 36.748s and Hamilton on 1m 36.775s. Schumachers best, 1m 37.509s, was 0.832s off the top.
Behind them Sebastian Vettel took fifth on 1m 37.601s ahead of the well-matched Renaults of Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov (1m 37.716s and 1m 37.745s), and Mark Webber's sister Red Bull on 1m 37.980s.
Adrian Sutil turned a 1m 38.008s for ninth for Force India, the German also earning a reprimand from the stewards for setting a fastest sector time under yellow flags, with Felipe Massa completing the top 10 with 1m 38.098s. It was not an auspicious session for Ferrari, however, as Fernando Alonso's F10 stopped after six laps with suspected engine failure, leaving him in 24th place without a time. The Spaniard was running the same V8 that the team had opted to change after qualifying in Bahrain, following some anomalies in its performance readings.
Jaime Alguersuari was 11th in the second Toro Rosso with 1m 38.161s, ahead of the BMW Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa (1m 38.375s and 1m 38.421s respectively), then Nico Hulkenberg in the leading Williams (1m 38.569s), Paul di Resta (1m 38.618s standing in again for Tonio Liuzzi in the second Force India), Rubens Barrichello (1m 38.678s) and Buemi (1m 38.939s), who was unhurt in his crash.
Then there was another big gap back to the Lotuses, as they led the Virgins. Jarno Trulli took his T127 round in 1m 41.531s ahead of team mate Heikki Kovalainen on 1m 41.779s, then Timo Glock managed 1m 41.830s in the lead Virgin before its front front wing collapsed. Lucas di Grassi was 21st in the sister car on 1m 42.181s. Behind the Brazilian came fellow countryman Bruno Senna in the lead HRT on 1m 43.875s, with team mate Karun Chandhok next on 1m 43.949s.