Fernando Alonso kicked off his Chinese Grand Prix weekend by setting the fastest time in the opening session ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.
Alonso set a 1:39.783 in the Ferrari, but the day got off to a slow start with cool track conditions and a limited amount of grip from the circuit. Rosberg was 0.398s off, but neither Mercedes appeared to push the limits with Lewis Hamilton restricted to just nine laps and the eighth fastest time.
Kimi Raikkonen completed just one installation lap after his Ferrari started and finished the session with a suspension issue. Several other drivers also had car glitches, with a fuel system issue restricting Jules Bianchi's running, a clutch problem limiting Esteban Gutierrez's track time early in the session and Sergio Perez cutting his morning short with a faulty DRS.
There were no such problems for Daniel Ricciardo, who notched up a total of 23 laps over the 90 minutes and set the third fastest time, albeit nearly a second off Alonso. Jenson Button was fourth fastest ahead of Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and his McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen. Sebastian Vettel could only manage the ninth fastest time, while Felipe Massa set the fastest time of the two Williamses in tenth.
Daniil Kvyat had a couple of spins during the session, but did no major damage to his Toro Rosso and finished the session 11th fastest ahead of a more promising session for Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. Pastor Maldonado was 16th fastest and had an embarrassing moment on his installation lap when he continued to turn right through Turn 8 even after the corner had ended. He appeared to be adjusting a setting on his steering wheel at the time and drove clear off the road, resulting in a small spin on the edge of the track.
The session also saw the first public appearance of Ferrari'e new team principal Marco Mattiacci. He spent most of the session observing the team in the garage, but kept his dark sunglasses on throughout and exchanged few words with either driver.