Chinese GP: Sebastian Vettel top as Lewis Hamilton struggles

McLaren head to head

The world champion set the pace as he aims for his first race win of the season.

Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull will be a serious threat at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix after seeing the pace of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo over longer runs in Friday practice.

Vettel holds a 17-point lead over Hamilton coming into the Chinese Grand Prix and the Briton can not afford to fall further behind his rival in the title race this early in the season.

Fernando Alonso: "The first session today was primarily spent testing some new parts we have on the auto, while in the second session we focussed on the tyres".

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was second-fastest, ahead of Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton finished second and third in the first two races in Australia and Bahrain. The Finn's time coming late in the session on the faster ultrasoft tyre.

"We're quite happy that this is a back-to-back race as that means that we won't have to wait long to get racing again", said Wolff.


"We also managed to check the auto in wet conditions, on Inter tyres, even though it was only for a few minutes at the end of the session".

"Ferrari are still quite quick".

Red Bull were strong on the race runs in Friday practice but were unable to compete for one-lap pace. "But it's a track where you need to find that sweet spot and if you are a little bit out you drop a little bit of time", the German said.

Vettel expects Mercedes to be closer in the race but admits Ferrari was braced for a tougher challenge on Saturday. In addition to that, it has several technical sections with corner complexes where unique corners, such as T1 and T13, lead straight into further corners requiring a good auto balance and precise driving.

Seasoned F1 fans have seen an very bad lot over the years in the paddock. "The vehicle, even though it was quick, it wasn't easy to drive at all", the Finn said.

The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took the next two grid spots, with the team doing well to get Ricciardo's auto ready after an engine blow-out in final practice.

"On paper, this track is easier for overtaking than Bahrain, so hopefully tomorrow we can make up for what we lost today". The session will be broadcast live on Star Sports Select 2 HD.

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