F1 Chinese GP: Ferrari will be hard to beat says Lewis Hamilton

Kimi Raikkonen encouraged by 'straightforward' SF71-H in practice

All through apply in Shanghai, Hamilton accomplished quickest on the end of Friday's second session, though exclusively a tenth of a second separates all four Mercedes and Ferrari drivers.

The perception Valtteri Bottas is second-grade has led to several drivers coming forward to say they'd have pushed Sebastian Vettel harder in Bahrain, not least Daniel Ricciardo, who would love his job.

"Then I think for Bahrain obviously we had a different plan going into the race, but we wanted to win, so we had to change it, and it worked out".

Despite the war of words between the two, they seemed cordial when they met in the paddock ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton made a couple of small errors on his fastest lap but the times suggest another close battle between Mercedes and Ferrari for the race win.

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"So yeah, I'm just looking forward to get started again here, because we have a good package, and there are a lot of good things coming".

Yet Mercedes have work to do. In Bahrain a grid penalty set him back from the off and third was a good result.

Hamilton issued a warning to Mercedes as well.

Equally the team seem to have suffered some in-race conservatism.

As in FP1, grip was at a premium and Hamilton and Raikkonen were among those to run off track as they explored the limits. "It seemed extremely close again with them".

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"It's the same as I get back from a day like today and it's nearly a team of them - there will be a group here and a group back at the hotel and they're coordinating: "okay, he's left" and there will be a group there at the restaurant.it's sweet!" Their success has been hard-earned but this year there is no room for complacency. It's clear that we need to improve.

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

Ferrari in contrast have implemented Vettel's opening two races perfectly and the Scuderia are firmly on the front foot. But as soon as that all calms down a bit in the race, yeah, I was very confident, for example, before we went into the race to still move up a lot of positions, because I think the vehicle was definitely capable of just driving back to the podium. We've been progressing through the sessions and we've got a good idea.

"Hopefully, when we go to China for the next race, we will have a better understanding of the tyres and put up a better fight against Ferrari".

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