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.