Hartley 16th in Chinese GP practice

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Hamilton topped both practice sessions at the Shanghai International Circuit, but Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen narrowed the gap in FP2 to just 0.007 seconds while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was within a tenth of his major title rival.

Replays of the incident showed that Verstappen was more at fault despite being given the room to pull off the overtaking maneuver which caused the collision.

The Brit said: "They are going to be hard to beat".

"He's made a few little mistakes", Red Bull chief Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the session.

"I'm really quite happy with the feeling of the vehicle but if the race results would have been better then I would be happier".

Hamilton had always spoken of the man he sees as a future champion in glowing terms, but was heard swearing in reference to him immediately after Sunday's race.

LEWIS Hamilton set an impressive early pace in Practice One for the Chinese GP ahead of Mercedes' bid to win their first race of the season this weekend. "So I changed the mapping and in second practice it was good".

"I don't think it has anything to do with being smart".

"So the mindset, the facility whereby I've now, I would like I had then because of it may have modified my life I would take into consideration once more then". As you could see in Mexico it didn't go wrong for me.

"So I'm not apprehensive the least bit, I merely know that I've to work laborious, maintain working more durable, establishing on the rapport of my employees".

"I don't understand why everybody is on top of the topic because those things happen in racing". "So he's going to have some great rides and he's going to have some bad races, just as I will".

Red Bull were right there too, with Max Verstappen just 0.3s off the pace in fifth.

But can Red Bull make it a three-way fight? A season that started with much tighter competition between Ferrari and Mercedes than anticipated has every sign of being impossible to call in Shanghai but, unusually given how strong they have been for the past four seasons, it is Mercedes who are having to fine-tune their focus to meet Ferrari's threat.

"I got some traffic and for sure can have gone faster on the one-lap run; but in the long run we never got a good idea of where we are because of the wet conditions", Raikkonen said. Hamilton and Mercedes need a win to get back in the game with Sebastian Vettel 17 points ahead after winning the two opening races, and the Silver Arrows need to prove they can hit back. "So, yeah, ready to go".