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As it happened: Saturday Practice
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
02:45 Hello everyone and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live, for continuing coverage of the third round in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The teams and drivers are back in Asia for the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix at the 5.451 km Shanghai International Circuit.

02:46 Today, we will guide you through the final practice session with minute-by-minute commentary as the teams and drivers begin their build-up to qualifying.

Third practice will begin shortly, with commentary ending 15 minutes after the session has concluded.

Later, at 05:45 GMT, we will return for live coverage of the all-important qualifying session and the battle for pole position. AUTOSPORT Live will end the day with a detailed Sunday weather forecast, on the Chinese Grand Prix weather page.

02:47 AUTOSPORT forum members are invited to join the fun throughout the weekend, offering thoughts and opinions as the event unfolds.

• Can Brawn GP continue their momentum this morning during final practice?
• Will Ferrari be able to find a suitable balance on the F60, allowing them to break into the top ten?
• Will the qualifying simulation runs towards the end of the morning session give an accurate pointer to qualifying?

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.

Button02:49 Yesterday saw two very interesting 90-minute practice periods, as the teams dialled themselves into the Shanghai circuit at an unfamiliar time of year.

Lewis Hamilton - aided by aerodynamic modifications to his McLaren MP4-24 - finally put his name at the top of a practice session, by setting a 1:37.334, just ahead of Brawn GP duo Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The morning saw many minor off-track excursions as the drivers battled with a track surface that lacked grip. The most serious problem befell Jarno Trulli when - having posted the quickest time to that point - he suddenly slowed on the circuit with a technical problem, missing a large proportion of the session.

Hamilton sets the early pace in China

The afternoon was even busier, with 16 of the 20 drivers completing upwards of 30 laps. Up front, Brawn GP stole the show, with Jenson Button assuming control, narrowly ahead of Nico Rosberg and Rubens Barrichello. Button's 1:35.679 didn't tell the whole story, however. Mid-session, the Briton joined the track and put in an impressive stint with laptimes improving marginally over a run of eight laps, at a time when most were struggling with tyre performance.

Mark Webber grabbed fourth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who spent the last 40 minutes of the session sidelined with a mechanical problem. Jarno Trulli rounded out the top six in the first of the Toyotas.

Button edges Rosberg in second practice

02:50 We can expect another pleasant weather day in Shanghai, with sunny periods, but also a little more in the way of cloud from time to time than we saw on Friday.

The wind has swung round to a south-easterly, bringing in a slightly warmer air source. This will help the temperatures marginally, with a maximum in the air of 20 degrees Celsius. The lengthy periods of sunshine should see the track temperature in qualifying approach the 38 to 40 degree range, assisting the drivers in getting some heat especially in the medium compound tyre. Wind speeds will vary from a light breeze, up to around 18 kph at times.

Question marks remain over the Sunday forecast. Later today we will publish the latest on the rain threat in the weather section of AUTOSPORT Live.

Alonso02:51 Trackside notes for Saturday:

• Renault are one of the teams who are frantically playing catch-up in the car stakes. Fernando Alonso will test an interim version of the 'double decker' diffuser in this morning's practice session.

• Renault, which only ran KERS in Nelson Piquet’s machine during Friday practice, has decided to not to use the system for the remainder of the weekend. Furthermore, Robert Kubica was not able to overcome tyre degradation issues caused by the extra weight of KERS when he tried it out in Friday practice, so he will not use it either.

• Ferrari have decided not to run KERS this weekend in China, and took part in practice minus the 30 kilo system, in an effort to have more flexibility with the weight transfer and balance of their troublesome F60. However, team boss Stefano Domenicali has admitted this was a mistake. Not only are the Scuderia struggling to find a suitable set-up, but now their lack of pace is compounded by not having the power boost system available to them on the long back straight.

Ferrari: Removing KERS has not helped

• Jarno Trulli slowed to a crawl on track during Friday morning with an electrical problem on his Toyota TF109. The Italian lost around 35 minutes of track time, but that didn't stop him slotting into the top six in the afternoon, completing a healthy 42 laps.

• Sebastian Vettel was sidelined in the pits for the final 40 minutes of the afternoon practice with a rear suspension problem on his Red Bull Renault. The German said later that they understood what the problem was, but didn't have enough time to complete the repairs before the end of the session. He ended the day fifth.

Super-soft tyres02:53 Tyre choice remains one of the critical factors at this grand prix, with yesterday's practice session demonstrating a number of issues with the available selection of super-soft and medium compounds.

Although the super-soft rubber did produce the quickest lap times, drivers reported difficulties with serious degradation of the tyre after about ten laps. This is more of a concern for tomorrow when both compounds must be used at some point in the race - providing it doesn't rain, of course.

Today's practice session is likely to see most of the work carried out on the harder tyre, which is likely to be the favoured race tyre, and a quick run at the end of the session on the softer option to prepare for qualifying.

One set of each compound must be handed back after this session, so there is no benefit in conserving rubber at this stage - leaving the each driver with eight sets of slick tyres for qualifying and the race.

02:55 Final practice for the Chinese Grand Prix is just five minutes away.

02:57 The track temperature is 32 Celsius this morning, with a 22 degree ambient.

02:57 Lewis Hamilton is ready in his McLaren Mercedes awaiting the start of the session this morning.

02:59 Nico Rosberg is strapped into his Williams FW31. He looks ready to go when the session opens in a moment, as does Felipe Massa.

0 min: The practice session is underway.

0 min: Giancarlo Fisichella is the first to pull out of his garage. He practices a start at the end of the pitlane as other cars stream past him. They are pouring out onto the circuit this morning.

1 min: Felipe Massa was among those to pass the Italian and the Ferrari driver leads the charge of checking laps this morning.

3 min: Nico Rosberg is off in the pitlane gravel ...

3 min: Massa returns to the pits, with 15 drivers already having come out onto the track.

They enter pitlane ... but Nico Rosberg is off the road! The German has beached his Williams in the pitlane, at the very same spot where Lewis Hamilton ended his 2007 Chinese Grand Prix.

4 min: Amazing development so early in the session. Rosberg has been one of the stars of this season so far, but he is in the gravel, completely stranded. There are a few marshals trying to remove the Williams at the moment, as Sam Michael walks down the pitlane in a state of disbelief.

6 min: Jenson Button returns to the pits after an installation lap in the Brawn GP, while Kimi Raikkonen heads out in the Ferrari.

6 min: Rosberg climbs out of the Williams, and his session could be over without even completing a lap.

If the marshals can remove the FW31 and get it into the pitlane, then the Williams mechanics can take over and get the car back to the garage.

6 min: Rosberg, now realising that a tractor unit has arrived to save him, runs back to his car to oversee the rescue.

7 min: Rubens Barrichello heads out and is the final man to complete a lap this morning.

8 min: Senior Williams mechanic Carl Gaden oversees the garage side of things, and is instructing his crew on the plan if and when Rosberg's car arrives back in pitlane.

The car is now being lifted by the tractor unit and have placed it behind the wall on the paddock side, while Nico kneels down beside the car to inspect any possible damage.

9 min: Rosberg has climbed back into the FW31 and is now being pushed by the marshals towards the back of the pits via an access road.

10 min: Timo Glock is now preparing to begin his first flying lap of the session, with his mechanics having completed their checks of the car after the installation lap.

10 min: Rosberg continues to be pushed towards the back of the pitlane via the paddock entrance. We can see that he is turning the steering wheel from side to side violently, to check for any steering damage.

11 min: Glock is weaving down the long back straight to try and build temperature into his medium compound tyres.

Timo heads into a timed lap.

12 min: Rosberg has now made it back into the top of the pitlane, and the Williams mechanics take over, and push the car to the garage. They will inspect the car and also get Nico's version of events. He should be able to make it back out on track soon once the car has been cleaned up.

13 min: Timo Glock sets a time of 1:40.733 as the first lap of the session.

14 min: Felipe Massa is also on track to begin his timed running.

14 min: Jarno Trulli is also out there in the sister Toyota, and he reports on the radio to his race engineer that the gear change is quite harsh, jolting him during upshifts.

15 min: Glock goes on for a second timed lap and he lowers the benchmark down to 1:39.857, as Trulli comes through to complete his first timed lap ... and he is quicker than his team-mate - 1:39.606.

15 min: Massa improves the early benchmark to a 1:38.549.

16 min: Fernando Alonso has come out onto the circuit for his first run of the day. He is indeed running a revised diffuser section, and as AUTOSPORT reported earlier this morning, no KERS system.

17 min: Massa continues on his harder tyres and improves his time considerably to a 1:37.926.

17 min: Nelson Piquet is also out there in the second Renault, and it will be very interesting to see if they can improve their performance with these latest changes to their R29.

19 min: Felipe Massa continues to set the pace, with his latest time a 1:37.441.

20 min: Timo Glock is in trouble in the Toyota, cutting short his first run of the day. On the long back straight he was not changing gear, and he soon reported to the team on the radio that he attempted to change up from third to fourth gear, but the gearbox didn't change.

The German returns slowly to the pits, and the team will investigate the problem.

21 min: Fernando Alonso is up to second quickest with his first lap of the session. He is testing a revised bodywork package, including an interim diffuser.

22 min: Robert Kubica is on an out lap. The Pole will not run the KERS device for the remainder of the weekend.

22 min: After 20 minutes of the final practice, Felipe Massa is the quickest of the eighth drivers that have set a time. His 1:37.441 is half-a-second faster than Fernando Alonso in second, with Jarno Trulli third with his harsh gearbox, Sebastian Vettel fourth, Kimi Raikkonen is now fifth in the second Ferrari and Timo Glock is sixth in the second Toyota - also with a gearbox issue and currently being repaired in the garage.

24 min: Kimi Raikkonen jumps up to second quickest with a lap of 1:37.723 to make it a Ferrari one-two at this stage.

24 min: Giancarlo Fisichella has been off the road in Turn 2. The Italian understeered wide in the long looping right-hander and ran out of road. Adrian Sutil has also been off the track briefly at Turn 4 but continued.

24 min: Lewis Hamilton slots in third in the McLaren with a 1:37.858.

25 min: Nico Rosberg leaves the Williams garage after that mysterious incident at the start of the session on his installation lap, and can now focus on the session. He joins the track with the medium compound tyre on his FW31.

25 min: Kimi Raikkonen continues his run and tops the order in 1:37.029.

25 min: Sebastian Vettel moves up into second place in the Red Bull, splitting the Ferraris with a 1:37.349.

26 min: Mark Webber is now fourth in the second Red Bull, with Lewis Hamilton fifth in the McLaren and Fernando Alonso sixth in the modified Renault.

26 min: Straight after setting that P1 time, Raikkonen drops the back end of his Ferrari as he puts the power down out of Turn 3. He continues, but has given the tyres a number of flat spots.

27 min: Nico Rosberg is on his first flying lap of the day after 27 minutes and he posts a 1:41.459 which places him 19th.

28 min: Lewis Hamilton, in one of the few cars still running KERS, improves to second with a 1:37.264.

28 min: Jenson Button moves from 18th to fifth in the Brawn with a lap of 1:37.719 set using the medium compound tyre.

30 min: Nico Rosberg goes on for a second timed lap on those harder tyres and he improves to sixth place with a time of 1:37.620.

Kimi Raikkonen still leads the board with 1:37.029, with Hamilton second, Mark Webber now third in the Red Bull, Jenson Button fourth after another improvement (1:37.330), Sebastian Vettel fifth and Felipe Massa rounding out the top six.

31 min: Heikki Kovalainen improves to eighth. The Finn is running McLaren's interim diffuser today, but has chosen to use the older front wing, even though the new version is available to him.

31 min: Nico Rosberg improves on his third flying lap with a time of 1:37.312 to place third with just under 30 minutes remaining.

32 min: Nico Rosberg sets the fourth improving lap on the trot and goes fastest of all with those harder tyres, with a time of 1:36.968.

32 min: Work continues in the Toyota garage on the car of Timo Glock. There are serious problems with the German's gearbox and he will face a five-place grid penalty if the team are forced to change the unit.

33 min: Kimi Raikkonen is second, Hamilton third, Webber fourth, Button fifth, Vettel sixth and Felipe Massa in seventh. All these drivers are currently in the pits with Trulli eighth and Kovalainen ninth, currently on track.

35 min: Rosberg has returned to the pits following a run of four timed laps on the medium compound tyre. All the top eight are now in the pits, with Heikki Kovalainen the only driver out on the circuit.

36 min: Heikki Kovalainen is up to third quickest with a lap of 1:37.172 on his run of laps with the harder tyre.

37 min: Kimi Raikkonen is back on track with the harder tyre on the Ferrari.

38 min: The laptime improvements has slowed somewhat in recent minutes as the drivers settle in to further work for the race. In the final stages of the session, we are likely to see some short runs on the softer tyre as they switch attention briefly to their qualifying preparations.

40 min: Jarno Trulli has come back out onto the circuit in the Toyota, as have both Force India drivers, Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Bourdais and Jenson Button.

40 min: Felipe Massa is also on track and has chosen a new set of the harder tyre - eating in to their allocation for the rest of the weekend.

Felipe was on for a good lap but a poor final sector saw him fail to improve.

41 min: Kimi Raikkonen sneaks past Rosberg's benchmark time to a set a new target of 1:36.921.

42 min: Massa continues on to a much better lap and pips his team-mate with a 1:36.806.

42 min: Jarno Trulli is right on the pace and is using the super-soft tyre to great effect on this run. He posts the fastest sector time of the session in both the first and second sections of the lap, and he blasts down the straight towards Turn 14.

He gets the Toyota into the apex nicely and drives for the line. He goes fastest with a laptime of 1:36.272.

44 min: Rubens Barrichello is continuing on the medium tyre for the moment. He sets personal best sector times in the first and second sector of the lap, but loses some time in the final third and does not improve on 11th position.

46 min: Barrichello goes on for another lap and does improve slightly on this lap to a 1:37.425 which moves him up to tenth.

Meantime, his team-mate Jenson Button also posts a minor improvement with 1:37.154. He is currently fifth.

47 min: Rubens Barrichello is continually improving on those harder tyres in the Brawn and he moves up to sixth, right behind Button with a 1:37.162. The gap between these pair is 0.008s.

47 min: Nelson Piquet improves to 13th quickest. He does not have the KERS device or revised diffuser on his car.

Meanwhile in the Renault garage, lots of work is going on with the revised bodywork on Fernando Alonso's car. The Spaniard has not been on track for some time and it appears the team is having some problems with the new development.

49 min: While the Brawns move towards the front, further down the list Sebastien Buemi recently set his fastest time of the session - 1:37.703 moves the Swiss up to 11th place in the Toro Rosso.

50 min: Nico Rosberg has gone third in the Williams with a lap of 1:36.818. He is another to stay on the harder tyre for the moment.

Jarno Trulli still heads the list with 1:36.272 with Felipe Massa second, Rosberg third, Raikkonen fourth, Button fifth and Barrichello in sixth place.

51 min: Lewis Hamilton continues on a long run but is fighting the McLaren all around the circuit, with his latest moment being a run over the Astroturf at the final corner.

51 min: Rosberg comes back into the pits at the end of that run. With just under nine minutes remaining in the session the teams will son send their drivers out for the final run of the morning.

52 min: Mechanical problems continue in the Red Bull garage as Mark Webber is sidelined with a transmission problem. The Australian will not get a run on the super-soft rubber to prepare for qualifying.

52 min: Jarno Trulli comes out of the Toyota garage with a set of the super-soft tyres bolted onto the TF109. He is already 0.534s ahead of the pack and we will watch to see if he can extend that advantage.

54 min: Heikki Kovalainen is now on track with the super-soft tyres on the McLaren.

54 min: Trulli posts a 1:36.390 which is just over one tenth shy of his current benchmark time.

Jenson Button is also out there in the Brawn with just under six minutes remaining.

55 min: Heikki Kovalainen takes second quickest, for now, on his super-soft tyres.

56 min: Button is using the super-soft tyre for his final run, and the Briton posts the fastest first sector of all on his current lap, following that up with a personal best in sector two. He crosses the line and moves up ... to second position with a lap of 1:36.463.

56 min: Cars are now streaming out of the pits for a late run on the softer tyres.

57 min: Nico Rosberg is starting a flying lap on the softer tyre. All the top eight are out there in the dying minutes. We can expect some changes at the top of the order as the pace improves.

Trulli, Button, Kovalainen, Massa, Rosberg and Raikkonen is the top six at the moment.

57 min: Both Red Bull cars have been sidelined due to a problem with the rubber boots on their driveshafts.

58 min: Nick Heidfeld improves to fifth on his soft tyre run.

58 min: Felipe Massa sets the third fastest time in the Ferrari.

58 min: Sebastien Buemi moves up to an excellent seventh spot, but further up the order Rubens Barrichello goes fourth with a 1:36.693 in the Brawn Mercedes.

59 min: Kimi Raikkonen slots in fifth with a 1:36.568.

59 min: Rosberg is flying in the Williams on his final run. He sets the fastest first sector of all on the super-softs with a personal best in sector two. He drives for the line ... and the time is 1:36.133 and he goes fastest with less than one minute remaining.

59 min: Lewis Hamilton's late effort included another bounce over the final corner kerbs and he is outside the top ten.

59 min: Giancarlo Fisichella sets his fastest lap of the session and improves to 17th with 1:37.732.

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

04:00 Sebastien Bourdais improves to tenth with 1:36.834 on his final lap of the practice session.

04:01 Hamilton has continued for another lap and it is much better - 1:36.330 - third quickest at the moment, including a fastest final sector.

04:01 Nelson Piquet vaults from nowhere to fifth spot with a late, late 1:36.464 in the Renault R29.

04:02 Nico Rosberg ends the final practice session with the fastest time ahead of qualifying for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix. His time of 1:36.133 is 0.139s ahead of Jenson Button in second. Lewis Hamilton leapt up to third in the final minute, with Jenson Button fourth, Nelson Piquet improving to fifth place and Felipe Massa was the first of the Ferraris in sixth place.

04:08 The two-hour break will be a busy one for the teams as they prepare the cars for parc ferme conditions. The cars of Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock all had technical problems in that session and need repairs prior to qualifying.

04:09 The session report is now available:

Rosberg fastest in final China practice

04:11 What a fantastically busy and entertaining practice session. Nico Rosberg kicked off the fun by running wide into the gravel trap in the pitlane entrance made famous by Lewis Hamilton in 2007. The incident was soon cleared and the serious business of setting laptimes soon followed.

Felipe Massa, Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button all took turns at the top of the leaderboard, but it was Nico Rosberg, recovering the bone he'd dropped earlier, who lapped the Shanghai International Circuit in 1:36.133 to put a marker down for the qualifying session.

Toyota are right there in the form of Jarno Trulli, but they have concerns over their gearbox. Lewis Hamilton produced a late lap to distort the recent trend, as did Nelson Piquet, but the Brawns are there and the Red Bulls looked fast, but fragile, with problems affecting both Webber and Vettel.

Join us for qualifying at 05:45 GMT where we will tidy up the the morning issues for those who had them, and of course we'll have full blow-by-blow coverage of the knockout session.

Session length: 60 minutes
Mainly sunny High Temp: 22°C / 72°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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