Mercedes' Hamilton sets the early pace in China

Mercedes' Hamilton sets the early pace in China

Mercedes' Hamilton sets the early pace in China

The British reigning world champion topped the timesheet with a best lap of one minute and 33.482 seconds in Shanghai, just.007 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in windy, moist conditions.

Lewis Hamilton now stands second in the points tally after his rival Sebastian Vettel took two back to back victories in Australia and Bahrain. Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes was three-hundredths back with Sebastian Vettel one-tenth down.

Perhaps it is Renault leading the race for fourth-quickest vehicle - Carlos Sainz was eighth in P1 and Nico Hulkenberg was sixth in P2 - but you could make arguments for many teams.

The world champion has said he can not afford to lose any more ground to the German in the title race.

Having gone into the season favourite to clinch a fifth title, the Mercedes driver has instead had to watch Vettel race to victory in Australian and Bahrain. "So I really hope that I'm able to climb the ladder and get back to where we've been working towards being in the last two races".

"But if we do, like this weekend, and we find the sweet spot, then I'm pretty confident that we can do well there as well".

Hamilton has dominated in a decade of racing in China.

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At a semester of play, both equally Verstappen and McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne spun off into the gravel while Hamilton experienced a spin as drivers strove to access grips with the cooler trail temperature.

Dane Kevin Magnussen set the seventh-fastest time for American outfit Haas with Renault's Carlos Sainz eighth and the other Haas driver Romain Grosjean ninth.

McLaren are again appearing to be down on pace with Fernando Alonso only 12th, some two seconds adrift of Hamilton.

Raikkonen added he is comfortable with this year's Ferrari but has been left frustrated by the lack of results he has scored so far.

"We got it better for practice two and that way lap times were improving".

It wasn't just the Ferrari pit stops up for discussion in the team principals' press conference, with F1's future also the focus of many questions as Arrivabene, Bob Fernley and Franz Tost addressed the media. It was not perfectly read by the electronic device that gives the green light.

"You can't they they are flawless, and neither are we, but it is very close between us, and it's going to be interesting to see how we perform from track to track".

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