Raikkonen spent most of FP1 cursing his SF16-H’s handling and general lack of grip, but the red car came into its own as the track rubbered up in FP2. His best lap wasn’t particularly clean, but it set him atop the time sheets as he overtook Vettel, who was on a different programme but backed him up with second fastest time, 0.109s adrift. However, both drivers were struggling for grip on the soft and medium tyres, so there was less bounce than one might have expected in the camp.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:39.155, P5; FP2: 1:36.896, P1
“It has been quite a difficult day overall, I was struggling to get the grip on the tyres probably due to the wind. I was sliding a lot and this feeling was not very nice. When I put the supersofts they seemed to work better, I had more grip and this helped to have a pretty good lap. We'll see how the weather conditions turn out to be tomorrow, we'll try to make a good day and then get the maximum out of the race.”
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:38.665, P3; FP2: 1:37.005, P2
“Friday is not so important in terms of position but in terms of feeling. We had a decent day and the feeling with the car was ok, but we can still improve, especially the balance. Tonight we'll have a lot of work to do, in order to get on top of everything. For sure to go for pole is always our goal, but it's only Friday so I wouldn't stress too much. This track is quite brutal on tyres, I was sliding a lot and there was a lot of degradation. I looked at Kimi's data and saw where he was faster. This afternoon we had different programmes and this is useful to make a comparison because we can learn from each other.”
Mercedes looked comfortable at the top of the times in FP1, but beneath the surface there were some tremors. Hamilton spun twice with rear brake locking, and Rosberg’s car later went into limp home mode at the end with an ignition problem. In the afternoon they went fastest again on the softs and the supersofts, Rosberg’s engine apparently recovered and Hamilton happier after set-up changes. But then they were upstaged by Ferrari. The last time that happened the Silver Arrows came back emphatically for qualifying, so we’ll have to wait and see, but the two teams were close on single-lap and race pace. Don’t forget that wherever he ends up on the timesheets, Hamilton will drop five grid places for a gearbox change.
Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:38.037, P1; FP2: 1:37.133, P3
“It was good to jump in the car again today and a decent start to the weekend. The first session was compromised by the red flag – but we managed to try a few different things that worked well. It looks like we are quick here again – but in the afternoon we saw that Ferrari are also very quick, so we are definitely looking out for them and we’ll have a bit homework to do tonight. I’m happy that we have the old Qualifying format back for tomorrow and really looking forward to that. I hope the fans are too and we can put on a good show for them. It’s always great to be back here in China, I really like the track – but most of all it’s the people. The fans are so enthusiastic! They waited two days at the airport to see me, which is really humbling, so thank you to them.”
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:38.183, P2; FP2: 1:37.329, P4
“It’s not been a bad day. I didn’t feel too comfortable with the car this morning but the team made some changes over lunch and it was much better in the second session. The weather has been surprisingly warm but with a lot of wind, which made it quite difficult out there through the high-speed corners. We’re seeing already that tyre degradation will be a big factor this weekend, which is pretty normal for this circuit but definitely something to watch out for on Sunday. I’ve had some amazing support here already. Every time I come to China I’m blown away by the amount of fans who come to see me. It’s only Friday and there were plenty of them over in the stands already with banners and flags, so a big shout-out to them.”
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“An interesting day’s work. We saw quite a bit of disruption to the morning session, with multiple red flags. Then, as the chequered flag dropped, Nico’s car went into ‘Limp Home’ mode – which we diagnosed as an ignition problem and resolved over lunch. We also made a few setup adjustments to both cars during the break and the drivers were generally happier in the second session. As is becoming the pattern with this new tyre formula, we’re conducting research on three tyre compounds across two sessions at low and high fuel, hence the split programme across the garage. Despite the stoppages, however, we got all the data we needed from today’s running. We’re very close with Ferrari on both single lap and long run pace across all three tyre compounds, so we look set for an exciting weekend.”
At first it appeared that Magnussen had suffered either a rear tyre failure or a debris-induced puncture near the end of FP1, but it transpired that his Renault had a rear suspension problem. While that was investigated, he missed all of FP2.
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: No time; FP2: No time
“I had a suspension failure on the car, and that led to the tyre going. It was fairly easy to control as I was going straight, not in a corner, so I just lifted. Otherwise I did some installation laps and some aero runs this morning which are always useful data-wise but I have plenty to do tomorrow morning in terms of what I can learn from the track and the car. It might rain as well, whereas the race is likely to be dry so this isn’t shaping up to be the straight-forward weekend I was wishing for but we’ll get there regardless.”
Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:41.816, P17; FP2: 1:39.774, P15
“We got through the majority of our programme today and made some good progress in FP2 so that’s encouraging. It was very low grip earlier on in the day and the track is rubbering in quite quickly so I think the times will keep dropping for everyone. For us, we have plenty of data to analysing from both short and long runs. We’ll work on things tonight to see where we can improve for tomorrow.”
Nick Chester, Technical Director
“It was a difficult day for us. Kevin didn’t get a lot of running because of a rear suspension failure in FP1. We know the cause of the failure and will have modified components for tomorrow but of course it is disappointing for Kevin that he didn’t get more track time. Jolyon wasn’t happy with the car balance initially and felt the car had too much oversteer but we got better through the session as we worked on it, and his run on the supersoft tyres was more encouraging. We have more work to do overnight to improve the balance and both cars will be ready for tomorrow.”
Red Bull had a fairly straightforward day, and Ricciardo in particular was happy that he was able to wring out of his RB12 everything it had to offer.
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:39.061, P4; FP2: 1:38.143, P5
“Looking at the lap times we are fairly satisfied but I think there is still more to come in terms of balance. If we find what we’re after, we’ll be a lot closer to where we want to be. I think most guys were struggling for balance because we seem to be relatively competitive. But the car was a bit of a handful today and I think it was like that for everyone. We saw quite a few guys spin this morning, maybe the wind was having quite a big effect as well. The long runs at the end with the Soft tyre were promising and the pace didn’t look too bad. If it rains tomorrow it should give us a bit more of a chance. I’d say top five would be achievable for us.”
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:39.625, P6; FP2: 1:39.178, P13
“Tyres work in an unusual way here so we need to understand how to make them work for tomorrow, that’s our target. It wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t have a single clean lap to be honest. I struggled on the Super Soft, it just didn’t work for me and we have quite a bit of work to do to get ready for qualifying. The weather forecast for tomorrow is rain which will change things up again, we’ll have to wait and see what the afternoon brings.”
Manor again demonstrated their 2016 improvement as they battled with Renault, Haas and Sauber. Haryanto did the most laps in FP1, Wehrlein in FP2.
Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:42.908, P18; FP2: 1:39.941, P17
“Second free practice was good; the first session was a bit messy with the two red flags, one on each set of tyres. This afternoon we did short and long runs, tried a few things with the set-up and everything seemed to be working well, no issues. The main point is that tyre degradation is really high; on the front left it’s massive. Everyone is struggling though so let’s see what tomorrow brings. We have to keep improving the car balance and watch our temperatures but so far it looks quite similar to how things were on Friday in Bahrain, so I’m quite positive.”
Rio Haryanto - FP1: 1:41.614, P16; FP2: 1:40.550, P19
“Today has mainly been about preparation for the race and understanding the tyre choices for Shanghai. It’s been a good day and a long run during the last 40 minutes has generated some good data for us to look at this evening. It’s good to see us in the same sort of mix as we saw in Bahrain. Tomorrow looks like rain, which we haven’t had since Friday in Australia. That could be interesting, as it will shake things up a little; hopefully in a good way for us.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“It hasn’t been the smoothest of days for anyone, largely due to the two red flags this morning disrupting the programme and partly managing the situation with the high tyre degradation that everyone seems to be suffering with. We’ve focused mainly on the race and therefore the medium and soft compounds but tomorrow morning we’ll have the chance to explore how things look on the supersoft, which most teams set their best times on this afternoon. That will give us a better indication of how we’re looking for qualifying.”
Alonso passed his medical test after running in FP1, and will now manage the pain of his broken rib for the remainder of the weekend. Both drivers said that the MP4-31 needed more traction and rear-end grip.
Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:40.538, P12; FP2: 1:38.728, P11
“I’ve really missed driving the car in the last 26 days!
“But I felt good today. There’s still a little bit of pain, because the rib hasn’t completely recovered since the fracture, which is normal. But that pain is definitely manageable.
“Today, it was important to get a good read on the tyres because tomorrow it is forecast to rain. So today might be our only chance to test the dry tyres ahead of Sunday.
“We’re happy with today’s results, but we still need to find an optimal balance for the dry: we’re missing a little bit of traction and rear-end grip, so we need to make a few changes to be more competitive.
“If it’s wet tomorrow in qualifying, we’ll try to do our best, but our priority is focusing on performance for Sunday.”
Jenson Button - FP1: 1:39.974, P8; FP2: 1:38.828, P12
“I think everyone is struggling a bit with tyre graining and overheating – the minimum pressures are very high, so it’s tough for everyone out there. Also, the tyres overheat quite quickly, which becomes an issue to manage – particularly on the longer runs.
“There’s still room to improve the set-up, but I think we may be a bit more competitive than we look.
“I’d welcome a wet qualifying if it mixes things up. If it’s dry tomorrow, I think we’ll be knocking on the door of the top 10 – we might even get through – and, if it’s mixed, you can make a big mistake and get it wrong, or you can get a break and get it very right. I’d go for taking the risk!”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“The two red-flag stoppages in FP1 certainly limited our capacity for significant learning this morning, and consequently shifted the emphasis to this afternoon’s session. In FP2, pleasingly, we were able to rack up a significant number of laps – but I’d stop short of stating that we’re satisfied with our day.
“Neither Jenson nor Fernando declared themselves perfectly pleased with the balance of their cars, yet we feel we’ve got a decent handle on the direction we ought to take with regard to set-up ahead of tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying sessions.
“This afternoon’s running also demonstrated that the weekend may be characterised by tyre-management issues. We feel well equipped to handle that particular challenge, and we’re consequently gearing up for an interesting but demanding Chinese Grand Prix.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“It was a difficult Friday to gauge the performance of the overall package, as it was heavily influenced by which tyre teams chose to run within each session. Where we ended up in the timing sheet was not as good as expected, but I think that if we can manage the tyres well for the remainder of the weekend, we can have a more stable race.
“Hopefully we can find a good balance early on in FP3 to help our preparations for qualifying and the race on Sunday. The weather is also forecasted to be wet tomorrow, so it will add another challenging element to the day.”
Sauber had a tough day. Nasr lost most of the morning with a cooling system problem, then had an early off in the afternoon, when Ericsson complained of gearshift problems.
Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:41.393, P15; FP2: 1:39.979, P18
“It’s been a decent day in Shanghai. I did a lot of laps working through the planned programme, especially on the soft and medium compounds. We got some good information for the rest of the weekend. Performance wise we still have to find a bit more. Let’s see what it is like when we go on the supersoft tyres tomorrow. For now, we have to look into the set-up of the car to make sure we are more competitive in qualifying.”
Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:42.980, P19;FP2: 1:41.066, P20
“Unfortunately, I covered very little mileage in the morning due to the red flags in the first session. Later on, I couldn’t do more laps as we had a technical issue, so we had to abort the run. Unfortunately in the afternoon, on the qualifying simulation laps, I experienced an issue with the power steering. All I could do was to find out how the car handles with high fuel. I think it is going to be a tricky race regarding tyre pressures. We used the medium and soft tyres in the afternoon, the medium being the more consistent and the soft giving greater performance, but then dropping off really quickly.”
Williams starred in FP1, for the wrong reasons, when Massa twice suffered a deflated left-rear, soft-compound tyre. Eventually the problem was traced to a set-up issue, with new vanes in the rear brake ducts having insufficient clearance and machining out the inside of the wheel rim as a result. Bottas’s car showed similar signs but he was luckier. The Finn was also running the sole new nose available that Massa had had use of in Bahrain.
Felipe Massa - FP1: No time; FP2: 1:39.214, P14
“It was definitely not an easy day. We had the issue in the morning but I’m confident it has been solved. Because of the morning, we lost a lot of mileage today and we need to concentrate 100 percent on being competitive tomorrow.”
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:40.828, P13; FP2: 1:38.723, P10
“It was a difficult start to the day with the problem we had in FP1, but the team did a good job between sessions to fix the issues and I think we understand what happened now. The long runs this afternoon felt consistent but we need to wait until tomorrow in qualifying to determine our speed. I think we can have a good weekend; we just need to work hard.”
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
“It was a difficult morning for us with the problems on Felipe’s car. Safety of the drivers is of paramount importance to us, so after FP1 and before FP2 we had to ensure we had fixed the problem. The issue had ramifications on what we did at the start of FP2, which then had further ramifications and compromised our low fuel and high fuel runs. As a group, we recovered well. We’ve got some good information now, we’ve set the cars up differently and we’ve got some interesting data to go through. We’ve learnt something about the cars on the supersoft tyres and Valtteri’s run on the medium looked quite good as well, so it’s a good recovery. We have a lot to look at tonight to prepare for qualifying and the race because we haven’t got as many laps in on either fuel level as we would like. Rain is a possibility tomorrow, we’re supposed to get some in the late afternoon so we have to take that into account. It may rain all day or we may just have a wet qualifying, we’ll just have to deal with whatever comes.”
Haas had a troubled day. Gutierrez stayed in the garage in FP1 with a gearbox sensor problem, and only managed 1m 42.954s in FP2 after his brakes caught fire after seizing on due to a brake-by-wire gremlin. Grosjean had an MGU-K deployment problem in FP2, and was one of several drivers who were very unhappy with the grip and general car behaviour at the tyre pressures specified by Pirelli in the hot conditions.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:41.358, P14;FP2: 1:39.890, P16
"Not an ideal day for the team. Esteban had a lot of problems. We had to try the new front wing, but the track is very difficult to understand. We've not managed to get everything working properly. The car is very difficult to drive. It's not so easy. Tonight's going to be a long night for the guys trying to analyze what we could do better for tomorrow. Right now, we're not at all where we think we could be. We need to understand that and work with that. Today it hurt us that we're a new team and we don't have data from previous years. We've tried a few different things, but nothing seems to be the fix right now."
Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: No time;FP2: 1:42.954, P21
"It was a very difficult day. It's going to be very important to analyze all the data this evening in order to sort out the issues and prepare for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. The team has been working hard and I'm positive that we'll rectify the situation. I'm looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."
Guenther Steiner, team principal
"Challenging day today, especially for Esteban. In the morning we had an issue with a gearbox sensor, which stopped him going out. Then in the afternoon, we had a problem with the brake-by-wire system resulting in the brakes seizing and subsequently catching fire. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get back out on track as we had to change everything in the backend. As for Romain, it was difficult to find a set-up for the track. We flat-spotted a set of tyres in FP2 and then spent the rest of the session working on the setup. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day us."
Both drivers were happy with the early progress at Force India, as Hulkenberg and Perez got their programmes completed and both ran inside the Top 10 in FP2.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:40.169, P9;FP2: 1:38.527, P7
"I'm pretty pleased with today. There's still work to be done, of course, but we've carried out the usual learning with the tyres and tried a few different things on the car. Tyre wear is always high here and we saw that again today, so it's going to be a big factor in the race. We also saw how close everybody is on the timesheets so it's going to be a tight grid."
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:40.347, P11;FP2: 1:38.569, P9
"The track conditions were not the best today because the wind picked up during the sessions and it was hard to be consistent. We also lost some time this morning because of the disruptions with the red flags. I think the main topic of the day is degradation and we have to try and learn how to improve that tonight as well as improving the balance of the car."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer
"Our work today involved the usual data gathering with both performance and long runs across the three tyre compounds. We obviously lost some track time this morning with the red flag stoppages caused by our competitors, but we played catch-up in the afternoon and ended the day in good shape. Both Nico and Sergio explored some set-up options to optimise the car around this quite specific track so there's a lot of information to study to understand the best direction for the rest of the weekend. The forecast for the next couple of days looks uncertain with a high chance of rain tomorrow, but at least we've done most of our homework for dry conditions."
Once again, the Italian team's STR11 machine was quick. The stoppages in FP1 were disruptive, but both drivers were happy with the way FP2 went.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:40.232, P10; FP2: 1:38.268, P6
"This morning's FP1 was a difficult session as you couldn't really put a long run together because of the red flags… We were going out, then in, out, then back into the garage again; but it was good to regain confidence at this track, see what was new and get a first understanding of the car. For FP2 we were able to get a lot done and, even though there's still some work to do tonight to improve for tomorrow, we can be satisfied with today."
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:39.676, P7; FP2: 1:38.542, P8
"Today was another smooth Friday for us. We had no issues on the car, which meant that we could complete all our program. FP1 was quite an interrupted session because of the red flags, but this afternoon's FP2 was very good and I end the day happy. I think it's going to be a challenging Grand Prix for everyone and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend, especially to qualifying which is back to the old format."
Phil Charles, chief race engineer
"China is usually a real challenge. Firstly, the tyres have a very hard time and, as engineers, we are on tender hooks to see if the front-left grains badly or not. On top of this, it is very technically tricky for the drivers too and they can have a massive impact on how the tyres behave. Today lived up to those China sentiments: We saw some interesting patterns of behaviour across the 3 tyre compounds, especially in the long runs. We will be going through the data carefully tonight with the drivers to best understand how to make them work for Sunday.
"On our side we are pretty happy having worked through most of our program checklist and both drivers having settled in well. We will also be watching the weather forecast for tomorrow very keenly tonight as there may be some rain to give us some more entertainment!"
Paul Hembery, motorsport director
“First of all, regarding the deflations in FP1, as acknowledged by the teams themselves, none of these issues were related to the tyre. In FP1 we had a very slippery and ‘green’ track, which caused some issues with traction and grip. As expected, more rubber was laid down on the track during FP2 and we experienced a considerable degree of track evolution. This enabled the drivers to get the best out of the supersoft compound in particular, which we expect to be the tyre to qualify with tomorrow. Of course, this race is always a special one for us at Pirelli as for the first time we are the title sponsor of the Grand Prix, and we’d like to thank everyone for the warm welcome that we’ve received here, at a circuit that nearly always gives us some very interesting races.”