Following the Red Bull duo, but more than 2 seconds behind Vettel were the two McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, while Nick Heidfeld had to settle for the 5th best time of the day.
However, the German did not enjoy a trouble-free session on Friday morning, as he lost control of his car at Turn 10 and hit the kerbs violently, ending his session prematurely due to extensive damage to the front section of his R31.
Felipe Massa put Ferrari in 6th place at the end of the first 90 minutes of action, as the Scuderia tried out several new aerodynamic parts and put 'flo-viz' paint on the front wings of their 150 Italia throughout the session. Fernando Alonso finished 12th this morning, after doing his first timed lap 20 minutes before the end of the session.
The first running on the Chinese circuit was filled with incidents, as Heidfeld was not the only unlucky driver to experience troubles on the smog-full track.
Force India's Paul di Resta spun his car on the track less than half an hour before the session ended, while another rookie driver, Williams' Pastor Maldonado also lost control of his car, in Turn 5, to end up stalling it on top of the kerbs.
Luiz Razia, making his debut on a 2011-spec F1 challenger this weekend, didn't manage to finish the session in his Lotus T128, as he damaged his front wing some 40 minutes into the FP1. Timo Glock, on the other hand, enjoyed little track time this morning, sitting in the garage through the majority of the running and setting his first timed lap 10 minutes before the end.