Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time during first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix as Red Bull ended the session well clear of the field.
Vettel set a time of 1:38.739 during a run of consistently quick laps to head his team-mate Mark Webber by 0.6 seconds, as both drivers made little use of their troublesome KERS system. McLaren pair Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were third and fourth respectively but over 1.5s off the pace as they too experienced KERS issues.
Times shouldn't be read in to too much as teams try to find different setups for their cars, while also testing new parts. The Ferrari cars were seen with aero paint on the front wings, while McLaren was testing a new floor. Renault showed some encouraging pace as Nick Heidfeld was able to set the fifth fastest time despite spinning off after only five laps, catching to much kerb on the outside of turn ten and losing his front wing against the tyre barrier.
Another to have a spin was Pastor Maldonado, who lost the back end of his Williams late on through turn seven and allowed it to roll out of the way to the inside of the track. Unfortunately for him, his car grounded on the kerb and left the rear wheels spinning in the air, so he was unable to do any further running, but still set the eighth fastest time.
Being the first session of the race weekend the circuit was dusty and caught many drivers out. Lewis Hamilton ran wide through turn seven, Paul Di Resta had a spin in turn one, and numerous drivers outbraked themselves in to the hairpin at the end of the main straight. Luis Razia had his time in the Lotus cut short when a suspension problem caused his front wing to fail, but there was better luck for his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who was within 0.8s of Hamilton in third.
All of the drivers were within what would have been the 107% time, with Narain Karthikeyan slowest for HRT, 6.2 seconds off the pace.
Chris Medland is an assistant editor on ESPNF1.