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As it happened: Friday Afternoon Practice
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
05:45 Welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live as we continue to follow the opening day of practice at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Next on the agenda is the second 90-minute practice session as the teams and drivers continue their race preparations in Shanghai.

McLaren diffuser05:47 Earlier today, the first practice session took place under clear skies. Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren Mercedes team bounced back to form, with the quickest time on a 'green' racetrack.

A lap of 1:37.334 saw the 2008 champion just 0.116 seconds ahead of Jenson Button, with Rubens Barrichello third, Heikki Kovalainen fourth, Mark Webber fifth and Toyota driver Jarno Trulli rounding out the top six.

Hamilton dominated this event six months ago, posting the fastest time in two of the three practice sessions, all three qualifying periods and the grand prix.

Although McLaren have struggled for speed so far this year, particularly with a lack of rear-end grip, a new areodynamic package, including an interim version of the controversial 'double decker' diffuser, does seem to have improved their pace - at lest at this early stage.

Hamilton sets the early pace in China

05:49 AUTOSPORT forum members are invited to join the fun throughout the weekend, offering thoughts and opinions as the event unfolds.

• Will the McLaren and Brawn teams continue to lead the chasing pack in the second practice session?
• Will Ferrari or BMW Sauber break into the top ten this afternoon?
• 419 laps were covered by the 20 drivers this morning - higher than usual for a Friday morning session - thanks, in part, to the teams testing modifications in the wake of the diffuser ruling. Will we see more laps covered in second practice?

Tell everyone what you think.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

05:51 The weather remains dry and very pleasant at the Shanghai International Circuit. Clear skies and a maximum air temperature of 18 degrees Celsius await the drivers for this session.

Some media outlets are beginning to raise the possibility of rain during the race on Sunday due to incoming storms that we have been observing all week. Later today, we will take a detailed look at the latest weekend prospects on the Chinese Grand Prix weather page within AUTOSPORT Live.

05:53 Graining was the watchword in practice one, as the drivers struggled to make the harder tyre option work on a day with cool temperatures and the usual Friday morning lack of rubber on the track surface.

Felipe Massa was clearly struggling with the problem with his Ferrari - and he reported it more than once to engineer Rob Smedley on the radio - but there was visible graining on cars throughout the field, including Hamilton's pace-setting McLaren.

The teams will be hoping things improve with the track conditions. Higher temperatures are expected on Saturday and ever-increasing levels of rubber on the track surface will improve grip and reduce graining.

Concerns remain about the durability of the softer tyre option, which played little part in the first session as the teams wait for the best track conditions in the latter half of second practice. It will be interesting to see if the super-soft compound can deliver a quick lap and how it fares going into a longer run.

05:55 There are five minutes to go until the second practice session of the weekend begins.

05:56 Temperatures are slightly warmer this afternoon, with the sunshine heating the asphalt to 34 Celsius in the 19 degree ambient.

A stiff breeze is also blowing for this session.

05:59 Rubens Barrichello stands in the back of the Brawn garage, shades on, looking chilled out, as he awaits the start of the session like the other drivers.

Lewis Hamilton is putting his overalls on, as Jenson Button climbs aboard his BGP001, while Nick Heidfeld looks pensive, wondering how much speed he can get from his BMW F1.09 this afternoon.

0 min: The practice session is underway.

0 min: Timo Glock is the first to head out onto the circuit this afternoon.

1 min: He is followed by Bourdais, Rosberg, Buemi, Piquet and Jarno Trulli.

2 min: Fernando Alonso joins the gaggle as Glock and Bourdais joust for track position to get the first, clear lap of the afternoon.

Glock backs off allowing Bourdais to enjoy clear space. The Frenchman starts the first timed lap of the afternoon.

3 min: Bourdais is running with the medium compound tyre on his Toro Rosso. He completes the lap and the time is 1:40.157.

3 min: Felipe Massa heads out to begin his afternoon's work in the Ferrari. He'll be hoping the warmer temperatures now help with the graining that he suffered this morning.

4 min: Glock follows that with 1:39.871 to take the position away from Bourdais.

5 min: Jarno Trulli is quicker than both with his first effort - 1:39.342.
Seconds later Fernando Alonso takes first position on the timesheet with 1:38.923.

6 min: Sebastien Buemi goes on for a second timed lap and he posts a 1:39.559 to move up from sixth to third position., but Piquet and then Vettel both take that third spot briefly.

7 min: Heikki Kovalainen is on to a lap in his McLaren, while team-mate Hamilton is picked up by the TV cameras running across the paddock and in to the garage.

7 min: Adrian Sutil posts 1:38.272 to go fastest with Bourdais moving up now into second place with 1:38.547, ahead of Alonso, Glock, Trulli and Vettel in sixth.

8 min: Kimi Raikkonen is also on his first flying lap of the session with the harder tyres on his Ferrari.

8 min: Sebastian Vettel moves into second with 1:38.385, as we see Nelson Piquet briefly running wide and off-track for a moment. He rejoins and come into the pits.

9 min: Raikkonen's first time is a 1:40.680 and only 15th quickest at this stage.

10 min: The order continues to change as the first runs are in progress. Adrian Sutil is still at the head of the list, with Vettel second. Kazuki Nakajima has moved into third, Alonso is now fourth and back into the pits after a run of three flying laps. Bourdais is fifth and Sebastien Buemi is sixth.

11 min: Kazuki Nakajima goes fastest with 1:37.964, but moments later Sebastien Bourdais posts a 1:37.852 to demote the Japanese to second spot.

Jarno Trulli is now third in the Toyota with Sutil fourth and Buemi fifth as the improvements continue.

12 min: Timo Glock is seventh so far but is on a quicker lap this time round. The German has posted two personal best sectors so far, and yes, Timo moves up to fifth spot with a 1:38.294.

13 min: Sebastien Bourdais has come back into the pits at the end of a seven lap run. Jarno Trulli is also in after seven laps.

13 min: Kimi Raikkonen continues to lap, moving up to 13th quickest with a 1:39.137.

14 min: Adrian Sutil is fourth but on for an improvement on this latest lap of the Shanghai circuit. He sets the fastest first sector time of all but elects to pit at the end of that lap - a six lap run for the German in the Force India.

15 min: Sebastien Buemi surges to the top spot with 1:37.702 in the Toro Rosso, with Nakajima second and Rubens Barrichello now third in the Brawn.

15 min: There are a lot of discarded rubber 'marbles' off-line on the long back straight - a clear sign that the tyres are degrading a lot at the moment.

16 min: Lewis Hamilton is yet to emerge from the McLaren garage and his mechanics are making some tweaks to the new front wing on the car.

16 min: The standard early Friday afternoon charge that has become so familiar over the last couple of years is beginning to subside a little. Buemi still heads the list and has pitted following a nine lap run.

17 min: Kazuki Nakajima is now quickest in the Williams, having posted a 1:37.690. Buemi is now second, with Barrichello third, Bourdais fourth, Trulli fifth and Adrian Sutil in sixth place.

18 min: Nico Rosberg is using the medium compound tyres on his Williams, and they help him on his way to the head of the list with 1:37.464.

19 min: Lewis Hamilton heads out for his first lap of the session.

20 min: Nelson Piquet is currently in 11th place in the Renault, but is on an improving lap in the first sector. He is using the medium tyre and has lost a lot of time in the middle section of the circuit. Ultimately there is no improvement and the Brazilian remains 11th.

21 min: Nick Heidfeld is also out for his first run of the afternoon.

22 min: Jarno Trulli is on course to move up from sixth spot with a series of quick sectors. He is using the super-soft tyres and they propel the Italian to the top spot with a 1:36.684.

22 min: Felipe Massa clocks his first time of the session with a 1:37.927 for seventh.

23 min: Jarno stays on it and is charging for a second effort with the softer tyre. Two fastest sector times and a clear track ahead of him as he enters the final corner. The Toyota driver blasts across the line and he posts a 1:36.361 to extend his advantage at the top of the order.

24 min: Robert Kubica is the latest man to struggle with the big stop into the Turn 14 hairpin. He locks the right front wheel heavily, flat spotting the tyre.

24 min: Timo Glock is similarly using the softer tyre and he too is extremely quick He moves up from 12th to second position with 1:36.548.

25 min: Lewis Hamilton goes fourth with his first serious lap of the afternoon on the harder tyre.

25 min: It's Toyota one and two at the head of the field, with Nico Rosberg third, Lewis Hamilton fourth, Kazuki Nakajima fifth and Sebastien Buemi sixth after 25 minutes.

25 min: Nick Heidfeld has slotted in tenth quickest at the moment in the BMW.

27 min: Sebastian Vettel moves up to third place with 1:36.568, but up ahead his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber takes over at the top with 1:36.179. Both drivers are out there with the super-soft tyre bolted on to their RB5s.

28 min: Vettel goes on for a second timed lap and he jumps ahead of his team-mate into first position with 1:36.167. Webber second, Trulli third, Glock fourth, Rosberg fifth and Hamilton now down to sixth spot.

30 min: Lewis Hamilton continues on a longer run with the hader tyre. His latest lap is another improvement - 1:36.941 - for seventh.

30 min: Sebastian Vettel followed up his pace-setting lap with a 1:36.247, losing only one tenth of a second on the super-soft tyre on what was his third timed lap on this set of tyres.

31 min: A very short run sees Adrian Sutil jump up the order into fifth spot with 1:36.829 with the softer tyre.

Meantime, Jenson Button improves to ninth overall with 1:37.334.

33 min: The Brawn GP drivers are clearly running a similar programme in the early stages of this second practice session. Button is ninth, Barrichello tenth, with just 0.047s between them.

34 min: The Ferrari duo continue to lap on a long run, with Massa 14th and Raikkonen 16th quickest at this stage.

35 min: It is team formation at the top of the standings, with Red Bull leading the way. Sebastian Vettel is quickest so far with his team-mate Mark Webber just 0.012s behind him. Trulli and Glock are third and fourth in the Toyotas.

Nico Rosberg is fifth for Williams with Adrian Sutil sixth in the Force India.

36 min: Robert Kubica is on track again after almost ten minutes in the pits to work on his BMW. He is the slowest man on the timesheet at the moment, but is setting a quicker lap.

38 min: Kubica has the softer tyres on his BMW but he only improves to 17th with a 1:38.148.

39 min: The leaderboard is beginning to settle down after that flurry of laps in the first 30 minutes, and the teams settle in to a distinct programme of set-up and tyre evaluation work.

Kubica's recent improvement doesn't read well for Renault, who occupy the final two positions on the list at the moment. Fernando Alonso is 19th with 1:38.244 after 11 laps, with his team-mate Nelson Piquet 20th on 1:38.356 after 16 laps.

Both drivers are in the pits at this time.

42 min: Jarno Trulli is back out with super-soft tyres on his Toyota. He starts a timed lap but the effort is instantly compromised at Turn 1 by Felipe Massa who had just left the pits.

45 min: Trulli remains third and has now used the best of his set of tyres. Meanwhile at the rear of the field Nelson Piquet is out on track now, with super-soft tyres bolted on to the Renault.

47 min: Robert Kubica continues his long run on the softer tyres, with his current lap almost a second slower than the time he set when he first used this set of tyres.

47 min: Piquet completes the lap and moves up from 20th ... to 18th with 1:38.153. His team-mate Fernando Alonso remains in the garage with serious work going on around his R29.

48 min: Nick Heidfeld is now trying the softer tyres on his BMW.

49 min: Giancarlo Fisichella has run wide at Turn 1 and onto the extra tarmac area. He rejoins and then spins at Turn 7 on the following lap. The Italian stays out there to fully evaluate the wear rate of the medium compound tyre.

49 min: Heidfeld's flying lap on super-soft rubber is a 1:38.527. He fails to improve on 16th.

51 min: Pacesetter Sebastian Vettel has joined the racetrack, and is soon followed by Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber. Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are also out there in the Toyotas.

So the top four are all on track, and now Kazuki Nakajima pops up into fifth spot with 1:36.719. Moments later his Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg takes fourth with 1:36.355.

Nakajima is out there using the super-soft tyre.

52 min: Jarno Trulli is setting a strong pace on his set of super-soft tyres. After a lengthy run of laps, he has just set a 1:36.363 - just over a tenth slower than his current third-place time.

53 min: Felipe Massa is out to test the softer tyres on the Ferrari.

53 min: The Force India adventures continue. This time it is Adrian Sutil who runs wide exiting the final left-hand corner of the lap and takes to the astroturf on the outside. He continues and currently sits in a creditable eighth place.

54 min: Fernando Alonso is now back out on the circuit after a lengthy spell in the Renault garage.
His team-mate Nelson Piquet has been on a longer run of laps and is in 19th place on a 1:38.153.

54 min: Massa does improve on the super-soft option and his time of 1:36.916 puts him up to 9th, three-quarters of a second down on Vettel's benchmark pace on similar rubber.

56 min: Massa continues on his soft tyres and breaks the beam in 1:43.484 - a massive loss of time for the second lap on those tyres.

56 min: Rubens Barrichello provides a change at the top of the order and he puts the Brawn into the top spot with the first lap under 1:36. 1:35.995 is the time, and Button moves up to fourth with 1:36.205.

Both drivers are using the super-soft tyre.

58 min: Barrichello stays on it for a second lap and he lowers the benchmark further to 1:35.881, setting the three fastest sector times of all so far.

Button moves up into second place with 1:36.059 as Brawn move to their customary position at the front of the field.

60 min: Robert Kubica has improved his time to a 1:37.491 but he is still down in 15th.

62 min: Watching Jenson Button's current run from on-board, you can see why the Brawn is the car to beat at the moment. The increased downforce coupled with Button's known smooth driving style, make for a car that appears to be on rails as he swoops through the twisting medium-speed sections of the circuit.

Button is certainly enjoying a much easier car to drive than others we have seen so far this weekend.

63 min: The Ferrari duo have settled in to a consistent pace in the mid 1:37 bracket as they test the durability of the softer tyres.

64 min: Sebastian Vettel, currently third, has been in the pits for several minutes. On the team radio a message crackles through stating that there is a problem with the rear wing, and it will take the next 20 minutes to fix.

66 min: Jenson Button remains second to his team-mate Rubens Barrichello, but over recent laps has chipped away at the gap, lowering his time to 1:35.912 in the process.

Button returns to the pits at the end of a very strong run of laps on the super-soft tyre.

67 min: Despite setting good times, Button's left front tyre is heavily blistered as he pits after that run.

69 min: Fernando Alonso has spent much of the session at the bottom of the list. The Spaniard has come out with super-soft tyres on the Renault, and they help him move up the order slightly to 16th place, with a time of 1:37.638.

70 min: Lewis Hamilton is heading out for another run in the McLaren.

71 min: Hamilton has the super-soft rubber on the McLaren.

74 min: Down in the pits, the Ferarri crew remove a severely grained set of super-soft tyres from one of their cars.

74 min: Adrian Sutil has run wide, off track at Turn 1, losing five seconds as he rejoined the course. He continues on the current run of laps and is in tenth place.

75 min: Lewis Hamilton sets a 1:37.283 on his soft tyres, which is no improvement on his 12th place time.

76 min: Hamilton's next lap is a 1:37.346.

77 min: With just over ten minutes remaining in the session, Brawn GP still head the classification with Rubens Barrichello first and Jenson Button in second spot. Sebastian Vettel Vettel is third, but still in the garage at the moment while his Red Bull undergoes repairs. Mark Webber is fourth with Jarno Trulli fifth and Nico Rosberg in sixth place.

79 min: Kimi Raikkonen runs way off the road as he understeers out of the banked Turn 13 on the softer tyres.

80 min: Barrichello and Button have come back out again towards the end of the session with super-soft tyres bolted on to their BGP001s

Neither driver improves - in Button's case possibly due to traffic in the form of Kimi Raikkonen who is working extremely hard just to keep his Ferrari on track.

The duo continue for another timed lap.

81 min: Nico Rosberg is also out with the softer tyre on his Williams. He is very quick, but makes an error at Turn 14, costing him time. Nevertheless Nico moves up a place to fifth with 1:36.184.

83 min: Button gets a clear run this time and it shows on the leaderboard, as he jumps team-mate Barrichello with 1:35.679. This is an interesting battle between the pair as they fight for supremacy.

84 min: Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen continue to test the long-run pace of the super-soft rubber. Both are setting comparable times in the 1:37s.

86 min: Nico Rosberg breaks the Brawn and Red Bull stranglehold at the top of the order, by moving up into third place on his super-soft tyres. His latest lap was 1:36.055, and his next lap is looking even quicker ...

88 min: Rosberg sets two fastest sector times in the session, but loses out slightly in the final sector. He improves further to second place with a lap of 1:35.704, which is good enough to split the Brawn pair.

Button still heads the list, with Rosberg now second, Barrichello third, Vettel fourth and Webber in fifth place.

88 min: Heikki Kovalainen bounces his McLaren across the kerbs in the final corner and crosses the line in 1:36.674 to move up to 9th.

89 min: Mark Webber jumps ahead of his stranded team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and into fourth position with 1:36.105.

90 min: The session has ended. Cars that have already started a lap may complete it.

07:30 Felipe Massa is on a final effort with the softer tyres.

07:31 Massa clocks a 1:36.847 but is slow in the final sector and fails to improve on 12th.

07:31 Adrian Sutil has spun on his final effort of the day, losing his chance to move up the order with a final attempt on super-soft tyres. The Force India driver ends the day in 11th place.

07:33 The cars return slowly to the pits, drawing the session to a close.

07:34 Jenson Button ends the first day of the Chinese Grand Prix meeting fastest in the Brawn Mercedes, with a laptime of 1:35.679.

Nico Rosberg produced a late effort on super-soft tyres to grab second position, with Rubens Barrichello completing a good day for Brawn GP in third.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel showed well in the Red Bull Renaults in fourth and fifth - although their work was curtailed slightly with a problem affecting Vettel in the second half of the session. Jarno Trulli rounded out the top six for Toyota.

07:39 The session report and classification is now available:

Button edges Rosberg in second practice

07:42 A great day of Formula 1 action comes to a close at the Shanghai International Circuit, with the rest of the pitlane being shown the way once again by Brawn GP, on a track where you need the perfect package.

Although it may not be the perfect package, Brawn clearly have the best car currently, and this was brilliantly demonstrated by a superb mid-session stint by Jenson Button, where he was not only consistently quick, as the stint times will show later, but that the BGP001 can keep its super-soft tyre in a better condition for longer than the rest before the inevitable degredation issue rears its head.

The rest of the field have a lot of work to do. Red Bull look strong once again and could be set for a positive points haul if their progress continues. Toyota also look good, as do Williams. The timesheet tells the story with the top eight places being filled by those four teams, with the rest trailing in their wake.

Can Ferrari, McLaren, BMW or Renault do anything about this in Shanghai, or will the top four run away with the points this weekend?

Join us from 02:45 GMT on Saturday here on AUTOSPORT Live, as the story of the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix continues.

Session length: 90 minutes
Clear skies High Temp: 19°C / 66°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 13 Apr Start GMT
 Chinese Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 17 Apr
 Friday Morning Practice 01:45
 Friday Afternoon Practice 05:45
Saturday 18 Apr
 Saturday Practice 02:45
 Qualifying 05:45
Sunday 19 Apr
 Race day at Shanghai International Circuit 05:30
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

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