Hamilton Tops First Practice Session at Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton is really stepping it up in China where he began the first practice session on Friday determined to show the world that Fuji was just an accident. The British driver topped the timing sheets earlier on Friday, followed by title rival Felipe Massa and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Fourth overall was Hamilton's lieutenant at McLaren, Finland's Heikki Kovalainen.

Almost 35 minutes into the practice session, Raikkonen was the first to hit the pedal and climbed on top of the timing sheets by outscoring Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais by more than half of a second. The next 10 minutes gave the fans quite a show, with Kovalainen, Massa and again Raikkonen managing some fastest laps of their own.

Hamilton took the lead halfway through the session but Massa stroke back and improved his rival's record by 0.020 seconds. The Brazilian only kept the lead for 15 minutes, as Hamilton ended the session with a powerful 1:35.630. Both Raikkonen and Massa tried to upset the Brit in the dying minutes of the practice session, but the morning ended with Hamilton on top of the timing sheets.

Renault's Fernando Alonso had to settle for 6th place, 0.154 seconds slower than Poland's Robert Kubica. The most disappointing performance of the day came from Toyota, whose drivers scored the 16th and 18th time of the morning session (Glock and Trulli respectively).

Highlights of the first practice session included a couple of spins from both Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber (in the Turn 11/12 chicane) and a run-off trip from Piquet close to the pit-lane entry. Here are the official times of the day:

1.  Hamilton           McLaren-Mercedes           1:35.630
2.  Massa               Ferrari                               1:36.020  + 0.390
3.  Raikkonen         Ferrari                               1:36.052  + 0.422
4.  Kovalainen        McLaren-Mercedes           1:36.103  + 0.473
5.  Kubica               BMW Sauber                     1:36.507  + 0.877
6.  Alonso               Renault                              1:36.661  + 1.031
7.  Heidfeld             BMW Sauber                    1:37.040  + 1.410
8.  Bourdais            Toro Rosso-Ferrari            1:37.070  + 1.440
9.  Piquet                Renault                             1:37.180  + 1.550
10.  Vettel               Toro Rosso-Ferrari            1:37.278  + 1.648
11.  Webber            Red Bull-Renault               1:37.491  + 1.861
12.  Button              Honda                               1:37.619  + 1.989
13.  Nakajima         Williams-Toyota                 1:37.630  + 2.000
14.  Coulthard         Red Bull-Renault               1:37.638  + 2.008
15.  Rosberg           Williams-Toyota                 1:37.638  + 2.008
16.  Glock               Toyota                                1:37.664  + 2.034
17.  Barrichello       Honda                                1:37.827  + 2.197
18.  Trulli                 Toyota                                1:38.219  + 2.589
19.  Sutil                  Force India-Ferrari            1:38.285  + 2.655
20.  Fisichella          Force India-Ferrari            1:38.479  + 2.849
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