Chinese whispers

Finally some good news for Lewis Hamilton. The world champion went fastest during today’s first practice in China, doubtless thanks to a whole bunch of aero revisions to his McLaren.

The Ron-less team are running a new front wing in conjunction with an interim rear diffuser, that’s halfway to the full double-deck set-up seen on the Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars.

Lewis topped a Brit one-two in first practice, with Jenson Button going second quickest and teammate Rubens Barrichello in third.

But Lewis was again well off the pace in second practice, dropping outside of the top ten while Button sat in first, followed by Williams Nico Rosberg, Brawn’s Barrichello, and the two Red Bulls of Webber and Vettel closing out the quickest five.

Red Bull chief tech man Adrian Newey is staying home this weekend to work on redesigning the RB5 to incorporate a double-deck rear diffuser set-up. Judging by Red Bull’s pace with their current diffuser, they will be very quick once that’s complete. But it could still be another month or two away before it’s ready.

The ever-outspoken Renault boss Flavio Briatore has questioned the credibility of this season’s title challenge in light of the diffuser row, saying that the fight for this year’s drivers championship is between ‘one who was almost retired’ and a ‘good guy but a paracarro’ – which means ‘slow as a milepost by the side of the road’ in Italian.

Jenson is not happy, saying, “He [Flavio] needs to remember that he tried to employ me for this year, so…”

Apparently Barrichello was just laughing.

Ferrari have decided to run this weekend without KERS, after the problems with the regenerative braking tech in the first two races. However, the team have admitted that the KERS-free car has lost some performance, and that the balance of the car hasn’t improved either. Oh dear.

Kimi Raikkonen, as usual, doesn’t seem bothered though: “The balance of the car isn’t bad and one doesn’t feel the lack of KERS,” he said this morning.

Rumours of Ferrari hanging an ice cream on a stick off the front of Kimi’s car this weekend to speed him up have neither been denied nor confirmed at this stage.

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