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Ricciardo quickest at soggy Shanghai

NEWS STORY
19/04/2014

Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 14 degrees C, while the track temperature is 16 degrees. Following overnight rain the track remains wet, a situation not helped by the unusually cool temperatures.

While Fernando Alonso was quickest in the opening session yesterday, Lewis Hamilton was on top in FP2, and though some say Mercedes is sandbagging it should be noted that the Mercedes customer teams didn't appear quite as strong as previous weekends.

Indeed, while the works Mercedes team appears to have the edge, the order behind is basically Ferrari and Red Bull and then the Mercedes customer teams Williams, McLaren and Force India..

Tyre choices are medium (prime) and soft (option), while the DRS zones are on the start-finish straight and on the back straight leading to T14. While there is a fairly big gap between the two compounds it is thought that this is due to the unusually cool temperatures.

Pirelli is expecting teams to get 20 laps from the options and 25 from the primes, with degradation on the primes about half of that on the options. So currently we're looking at between two and three stops on Sunday.

The lights go green and Maldonado – who had a nightmare day yesterday – leads the way, his Lotus shod with intermediates. Kvyat is warned that other than being an officially wet session, the FIA is warning of oil on the track.

While teammate Grosjean is also on inters, Massa and Bottas are on full wets, indeed, the rest of the field is pretty much split.

Vergne complains of a problem with his engine during his installation lap while Bottas, on wets, says he feels inters are the tyres to have at present.

As Button goes quickest in S2, Rosberg is advised that he is using his race gearbox and brakes and to be "careful". On yesterday's evidence, the German appeared to have the edge on his Mercedes teammate.

Following Vergne's problem, Kvyat is advised that the team has found a "problem with the engine mapping". He is told that a reboot may be needed, or as Roy of The IT Crowd would say, the team will need to try switching it off and on again.

Ten minutes into the session, all but the Sauber duo have been out.

Back on track, Maldonado posts the first time of the day, the Venezuelan crossing the line a 1:56.676. Meanwhile, a downbeat Vettel details a litany of problems with his car including clutch slip, no boost and no acceleration.

A 54.514 sees Grosjean go quickest, both drivers still on the inters. It is raining, but it is a very fine, light rain.

No sooner have Chilton and Ericsson become the third and fourth drivers to post times than, twenty minutes into the session, Button posts 55.673 to go third.

As more and more drivers post times, there is frantic activity in the Mercedes garage where both cars are being worked on.

As Vettel goes fourth (59.233), Bottas goes quickest in S1 before spinning in T10 after running over the kerb.

Ricciardo posts 53.958 to go quickest as the cameras pick up on Alonso in the Ferrari garage out of his car and having a casual chat with his mechanics, the Spaniard clearly feeling that there is no need to run in these conditions. That said, the indications that it will be like this for much of the weekend.

At 'half-time', it's: Ricciardo, Massa, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Kvyat, Bottas, Button, Vettel and Vergne.

Perez, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Magnussen, Alonso, Hamilton and Sutil all yet to post a time.

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