Sports

Vettel comfortably quickest during final practice in China

Vettel comfortably quickest during final practice in China

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.

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third, but 0.743 seconds off Vettel.

The Briton lapped the 5.4 km Shanghai International Circuit in one minute, 33.482 seconds in the afternoon session, beating Raikkonen to the top spot by a mere 0.007 seconds.

A big second day of practice ahead for the New Zealand Formula One driver Brendon Hartley at the Chinese Grand Prix.

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.

Mercedes need to counter the early-season pace and form of Vettel, who somehow managed to last 39 laps on severely-worn tyres in Bahrain to take a 17-point lead in the standings ahead of Hamilton.

"It has been a good day", said Hamilton, who has won the Chinese Grand Prix five times in his career. "It's going to be a long race, we try to stay out of any issues and then see how it goes". "Their qualifying performance. they put one on top and we really have something to think about".

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"We've got the team, we have the abilities and capabilities, it's just about putting our minds to it and pulling together", the Mercedes driver said. Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was sixth. We've been progressing through the sessions and we've got a good idea.

Kevin Magnussen's Haas was sixth quickest, about where the team is now expected to be after a strong start to the season, but the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were seventh and eighth just a day after technical director Andrew Green explained that the vehicle had a fundamental imbalance issue.

The two practice sessions were affected by windy, overcast weather along with intermittent drizzles, although no rain is forecast for the rest of the weekend.

McLaren could be facing a fine from governing body the FIA after Stoffel Vandoorne, 14th fastest, had to stop on the track with a loose wheel.

Team-mate Lance Stroll, meanwhile, survived a spin.

Several other drivers spun or went off the track as they tested the limits, with the cool and blustery conditions catching them out.


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