F1: Lewis Hamilton quickest in both practice sessions for Chinese GP

F1: Lewis Hamilton quickest in both practice sessions for Chinese GP

"We work very closely together, and Honda have worked very hard to come up with a reliable and competitive engine".

Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 ahead of Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly as just over half a second covered six teams from sixth to 13th.

Valtteri Bottas did all that could be expected of him and very almost passed Vettel on the last lap but it wasn't meant to be, so the two Mercs with Lewis Hamilton in third for a change were on the podium behind the Ferrari.

Verstappen's session however, included a trip across the gravel at the final corner. There was nothing between them and little behind.

After going fastest on his first run of the morning, Hamilton only briefly exchanged the top spot on the timesheet with team-mate Valtteri Bottas mid-session. The British driver needs one of his best performances and now more than ever. Lowering the gap is crucial but Hamilton believes it can be done.

"I heard some people say Lewis could have lifted but you're there, unless he turned off the track or braked.it's easier said than done", he said. "We need everyone in the team to be on it throughout the weekend because it's a joint effort".

Hamilton is probably the favorite to win on Sunday in China. In Bahrain a grid penalty set him back from the off and third was a good result.

F1: Lewis Hamilton quickest in both practice sessions for Chinese GP

The Dutchman, who spun during the Australian Grand Prix, crashed out of qualifying in Bahrain and then collided with Hamilton during the race, lost control of his Red Bull again here.

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

This time around, having won both opening races, one by cunning use of the rules and a software glitch for the Silver Arrows, the other by masterful tyre management and a fearless strategy, Vettel leads his foe by 17 points. A more aggressive outlook may have to be adopted.

He said: "It should be a good track for us but I think it is going to be a lot closer than you think".

Ferrari in contrast have implemented Vettel's opening two races perfectly and the Scuderia are firmly on the front foot. "I just remember texting in the beginning of the week", said Hamilton.

Between the Red Bulls were Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz as both Renault and Haas again looked like being the front-runners in terms of the remaining points positions, with all three getting within a second of Hamilton's time.

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