Shanghai, April 13, 2012 (AFP) - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday, as Formula One attempted to get back to the business of racing after all the talk about Bahrain.
The weather kept most cars off the track for much of the practice period, including three reserve drivers: Jules Bianchi drove Paul di Resta’s Force India as Valtteri Bottas and Giedo van der Garde replaced Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov at Williams and Caterham, respectively.
The Briton, who has been hit with a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race, left it late in the session to romp home quickest in one min 37.106sec to set the pace at a damp and cool Shanghai International Circuit.
Nico Rosberg, in a Mercedes, was second-fastest, 1.010sec off Hamilton, with Rosberg's team-mate Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion, third. He was 1.210sec off Hamilton.
Sergio Perez, the surprise package in Malaysia, was fourth-fastest, followed by Kamui Kobayashi and Mark Webber, who had been fastest for most of the session.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was seventh and current championship leader Fernando Alonso down in 11th.
The race is at 3:00pm (0700 GMT) on Sunday.