Mercedes and Michael Schumacher have been fast over a single lap at the start of the season, but are yet to translate the pace into strong results in the race. Reuters Photo
Michael Schumacher returned to the scene of his 91st and last Formula One victory on Friday to set the fastest lap for Mercedes in Chinese Grand Prix practice. The 43-year-old seven times world champion, whose last win was with Ferrari in Shanghai in 2006, lapped the monumental circuit with a best time of one minute 35.973 seconds after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton laid down a marker in the morning. Hamilton, who will have a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race due to an unscheduled gearbox change that has wrecked his hopes of a third pole position in a row, was second fastest after lunch.
"It was a trouble-free day, and I am quite happy with how our car is handling so far here," said Schumacher.
"As a team, we are a lot stronger in certain areas this season, and we have a much better base to work from"
Hamilton, twice a winner of the Chinese GP, completed only seven laps in the morning but topped the timing screens in 1:37.106. With a damp start to the session after overnight rain, the Briton was happy to save a set of tyres for the race.