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Ferrari’s Massa sets the pace in Shanghai

Ferrari’s Massa sets the pace in Shanghai
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Ferrari’s Felipe Massa edged out Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus to set the best time in practice on Friday for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, with Massa’s team-mate Fernando Alonso third quickest.

A rejuvenated Massa set the pace going into qualifying on Saturday with a best lap time of one minute 35.340 seconds, just 0.152sec faster than Raikkonen, the Finn who won the first race of the season in Melbourne.

In dry but hazy conditions, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, winner of the Chinese Grand Prix last year and fastest in the first practice earlier in the day, clocked the fourth-best time in the afternoon session. Red Bull’s Mark Webber shrugged off his feud with team-mate Sebastian Vettel, the world champion, to record the fifth-best time. Vettel, controversial winner in Malaysia last month, was only 10th fastest. The German, who defied team orders in Sepang to take Webber’s lead and win the race, was 1.451sec off Brazilian pace-setter Massa.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner batted away the suggestion the furore surrounding Vettel had hurt his performance.

 ‘We’ve seen many times that the free-practice times are meaningless,’ Horner said. An upbeat Massa, who had been in danger of losing his spot at Ferrari before a late surge at the end of last season, said:

‘Our race pace looks competitive. The car is handling well on both types of tyre and degradation was not excessive.’
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