When braking for Turn 14 after the straight line, the wheels simultaneously flew off the car, in what was later tagged by the team as being an upright failure. Apparently, the team had fitted a brand new upright design for the Chinese Grand Prix, and this is what triggered Buemi's problem. Fortunately for the Swiss driver, the car was projected into the gravel and didn't even hit the barriers, with the stewards deciding not to red flag the session.
Other than that, what was noticeable following the first one and a half hour of action on the Shanghai circuit was that McLaren indeed hold the upper hand over their rivals on the Chinese track, as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton dominated the time sheets for the majority of P1. The reigning world champion eventually finished top on the list, with the best time of 1:36.677, while his teammate had to settle for 3rd place, some 0.098 seconds behind.
Benefiting from their F-duct system on straight line, the two McLaren's were 1-2 in P1 for the majority of the session, but only minutes before Buemi's incident Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg split the two Brits, placing himself only 0.071 seconds behind Button.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was more than 8 tenths of a second behind in 4th place, while followed by Renault duo Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil and Felipe Massa.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is yet to score a lap time on the Shanghai track, as another engine failure early in the session kept the Spaniard in his garage for the rest of the morning action. No official explanation on the flames licking from the exhaust ports of his Ferrari F10 was issued by the Scuderia until this point.
Alonso is using his Bahrain engine in the practice sessions of the Chinese GP this weekend, while due to switch on the unit he used in Australia for the qualifying and race.
01. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) 1:36.677
02. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:36.748
03. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) 1:36.775
04. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) 1:37.509
05. Robert Kubica (Renault) 1:37.601
06. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) 1:37.716
07. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 1:37.745
08. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) 1:37.980
09. Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes) 1:38.008
10. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1:38.098
11. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:38.161
12. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) 1:38.375
13. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber-Ferrari) 1:38.421
14. Nico Hulkenberg (Williams-Cosworth) 1:38.569
15. Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes) 1:38.618
16. Rubens Barrichello (Williams-Cosworth) 1:38.678
17. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:39.939
18. Jarno Trulli (Lotus-Cosworth) 1:41.531
19. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus-Cosworth) 1:41.779
20. Timo Glock (Virgin-Cosworth) 1:41.830
21. Lucas di Grassi (Virgin-Cosworth) 1:42.181
22. Bruno Senna (HRT-Cosworth) 1:43.875
23. Karun Chandhok (HRT-Cosworth) 1:43.949
24. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)