Hamilton fastest in China GP practice but Ferrari close behind

The four-time world champion takes a hat to sign as he mingles with fans on Tuesday

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have a point to prove at the Shanghai International Circuit after being outdone by Ferrari in the first two races of the season. Last season, five different drivers won races, all from the top three teams: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has won both races so far this season.

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton walks down the paddock prior to the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in ShanghaiFerrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton's bid to become a six-time victor in China got off to a promising start on Friday with the Mercedes driver dominating opening practice on a cool and overcast morning in Shanghai.

Hamilton's Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest ahead of Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. After being hailed as the boy wonder when he burst onto the scene winning his debut race with Red Bull two years ago, his second campaign touched occasional heights with two race wins but largely failed to build on the promise. "But I think respect needs to be kept between all the drivers and you learn how aggressive each individual is and how much risk they willing to take for the positions".

Hamilton went on to finish third but the coming together punctured a tyre on Verstappen's vehicle, eventually damaging the gearbox and forcing him to retire.

We're certainly not saying this is a must-win for Hamilton but he has never won a championship in a year which he didn't claim a win in the opening three rounds. "On the long run we never really got a good idea of where we are with the conditions", Raikkonen said.

Hamilton issued a warning to Mercedes as well.

"That means every single individual in this team can't have an off-day". 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 vehicle balance and precise driving. A pure racing incident. "I think Mercedes are still the favourite going in but if we do our homework and get the vehicle balance right, it should be a good weekend".

"We've got the team, we have the abilities and capabilities, it's just about putting our minds to it and pulling together." he continued. "I said, 'Guys, we really, really need to make sure that we come with our A-game this weekend'". I don't think I did anything wrong in my approach. Practice one we had a lot of issues.

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