SHANGHAI, China -- Mercedes set the fastest practice times again at the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday, though rivals Ferrari and Red Bull may have closed the gap somewhat on Formula Ones runaway leader. Fake Avalanche Jerseys . Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, winner of the past two F1 races, was quickest around the Shanghai International Circuit in the afternoon session after a suspension problem limited him to only nine laps in the morning session. Ferraris Fernando Alonso, however, was just 0.141 seconds behind Hamilton under the watch of new team principal Marco Mattiacci, who arrived in Shanghai to take charge following Stefano Domenicalis abrupt departure this week. Alonso also set the quickest time during the morning practice. Hamilton was delayed in the garage for a half hour in the afternoon session while his crew tried to resolve the suspension trouble. "Its great to be still up front even though we have those issues," he said. "But, still, you want to get the car ready, you want to get the long runs feeling a little better, so theres some work to do." Teammate Nico Rosberg had the third-fastest practice time, about 0.4 seconds behind Hamilton. He said Mercedes still expects to win the race on Sunday, even if its rivals performed well in practice. "Were still looking pretty decent at the moment," he said. "The competitors are pushing -- today, Ferrari was very close." Mercedes has dominated the season, with Hamilton winning in Bahrain and Malaysia and Rosberg in Australia. Only an engine problem on Hamiltons car in the opening race in Melbourne prevented three successive one-two finishes. But Alonso, the defending Chinese GP champion, kept pace with them in the cool conditions of Shanghai, indicating his struggling team may just emerge as a challenger on Sunday. Ferrari has lagged behind Mercedes following the series switch to V6 turbo hybrid engines, and new fuel-saving regulations. The slow start prompted Ferrari to part ways with Domenicali after six years, replacing him with Mattiacci, formerly president of Ferrari North America. Red Bull also kept up the pace on Friday, with Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Ricciardo said, however, he believes Mercedes may have been holding back during practice. "We have to see where they are tomorrow. The gap seems a bit too close for now," he said. "I would like to say weve caught up but theyve got a bit more in there." He was pleased with Red Bulls improvement since Bahrain, where both drivers finished off the podium. "Were making small improvements," Ricciardo said. "I mean, the gap is a big one so its not going to come over one race, but weve crept up a little bit more." Felipe Massa of Williams was sixth fastest in afternoon practice, followed by Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen, who missed the morning session due to a mechanical problem. McLarens Jenson Button, Lotus Romain Grosjean and Toro Rossos Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10. Smog hampered visibility at the circuit on Thursday, but conditions were relatively clear for Fridays practice. Rain and cool temperatures were forecast for Saturdays qualifying session. Stitched Avalanche Jerseys . Groves signed with Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent last year after a season with Arizona. He was in the linebacker rotation and had a sack in the season opener against Miami. Colorado Avalanche Pro Shop .Y. -- A month ago, Syracuse was unbeaten, ranked No.According to a report, the Texas Rangers have reached a deal with free agent catcher JP Arencibia. CBS Sports Ken Rosenthal reports the deal is worth $1.8 million with incentives that could push the deal to $2.1 million. The 27-year-old Arencibia became a free agent on Monday night when the Toronto Blue Jays non-tendered the former Tennessee Volunteer after a disappointing 2013 season and signed Dioner Navarro to a two-year, $8 milllion deal. Colorado Avalanche Gear. In 138 games last season, Arencibia had 21 home runs and 55 runs batted in, but struggled mightily at the plate, hitting just .194 with a .227 OBP. Arencibias failings werent limited to offensive ones, as he also finished second-last in fielding percentage among American League catchers. The Rangers incumbent starting catcher, AJ Pierzynski, left the team earlier in the week to sign with the Boston Red Sox. ' ' '
actice times again at the Chin
actice times again at the Chin