BUTTON STILL BRIGHT IN SHANGHAI: McLaren-Honda's British driver Jenson Button, now 35, still fast during second practice ahead of the 2015 Chinese Formula 1 GP in Shanghai on April 10. Image: AFP / Johannes Eisele
• Hamilton tops sheets again
• Ferrari looks quicker on softs
• Spectator does cross-track sprint
SHANGHAI, China - Lewis Hamilton fended off Kimi Raikkonen to claim bragging rights over his rivals in both of Friday’s free practice sessions ahead of the 2015 Chinese Formula 1 GP on but the Finn's Ferrari showed enough pace to worry Mercedes.
Hamilton, who edged out team mate Nico Rosberg during the day’s first session, lapped the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit in 1min37.219 to beat Raikkonen by only 0.4sec.
Hamilton told the BBC later: "Generally the car was feeling good and it was nice to get the running and the preparations. It hope that will stand me in good stead. The Ferraris look as quick as they were in Malaysia – I hope we’re quicker."
Daniel Ricciardo was a surprise third-fastest for Red Bull, the young Australian leaping up the order late in the session after sitting out the opening 45 minutes as the team struggled to cool their brakes.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who won in Malaysia two weeks earlier, was fourth after surviving an early spin, edging out compatriot Mercedes driver Rosberg, who made a mistake at the end of his fastest flying lap and could only manage fifth.
Rosberg said later: "On one lap, I think we'll be quickest, and race pace we need to review now if we are looking OK or not.”
MORE CLOSE STUFF ON SUNDAY?
He came close to a collision with Raikkonen late in the session as the cars jockeyed for position.
"That was definitely quite a tight one. He didn't leave much space in Turn 2 but OK, fair play, then I got him out in the next couple of corners. It was good racing and on Sunday, we might see some similar action."
In the morning session, Mercedes had appeared to have regained its dominant stride in the cooler Chinese weather after being dealt a shock defeat by Ferrari in the sweltering heat of Malaysia.
Hamilton was then more than a second faster than Vettel and Raikkonen but the Finn closed the gap in the second session when he fitted the quicker soft-compound tyres, finding more time than the Briton on the grippier rubber.
Daniil Kvyat ended the day sixth-fastest but it was a far from smooth session for the Russian. Like Red Bull team mate Ricciardo, he sat out much of the afternoon and only managed 10 laps before being sidelined by a brake failure.
BOTTAS GOES LOW-KEY
Each was driving with different brakes after struggling in Malaysia and had reverted to many of the car's specifications from 2014 standards after a poor start to the season. Valtteri Bottas ended a low-key day for Williams in seventh while Felipe Massa ended up down in 17th after finishing his session in spectacular fashion.
The Brazilian lost control under braking for the Turn 14 hairpin, lightly brushing the barrier before coming to a halt and prompting a brief red-flag interruption.
McLaren built on an encouraging morning session with Jenson Button ending the day in the top 10. Fernando Alonso was 12th, his team seeming to have made genuine progress after their early-season struggles.
There was a moment of drama early in the afternoon when a man believed to be a spectator darted across the start-finish straight as cars were speeding down it, crossing over safely into the pits lane before being apprehended by track officials.
2015 Chinese F1 GP second Friday practice times
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min37.219
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min37.662
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - Renault 1min38.311
4 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1min38.339
5 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.399
6 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Red Bull - Renault 1min38.737
7 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min38.850
8 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber - Ferrari 1min39.032
9 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Mercedes 1min39.142
10 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min39.275
11 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Mercedes 1min39.444
12 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 1min39.743
13 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber - Ferrari 1min39.751
14 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min39.894
15 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min39.971
16 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1min40.151
17 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min40.423
18 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 1min40.868
19 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia - Ferrari 1min42.973
20 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari 1min44.564
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