"I don't feel that Ferrari did a better job in Australia" - Hamilton

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has won the season's first two races. Giuseppe Cacace  AFP

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has won the season's first two races. Giuseppe Cacace AFP

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, with the top four cars on the timesheet separated by 0.108 seconds. The former suffered no damage to his auto and went on to finish in third place, while the latter suffered a left rear puncture and damage to his diffuser and retired from the race two laps after the accident.

The Scuderia was a match for Mercedes during the low fuel runs during FP2 at the Shanghai International Circuit, with Raikkonen just 0.007s off Hamilton's pace-setting time.

"We got through all the laps that we needed and got some good feedback about the auto", said Hamilton after a cold afternoon.

Vettel holds a 17-point lead over Hamilton coming into the Chinese Grand Prix and the Briton can not afford to fall further behind his rival in the title race this early in the season.

"We will see what happens tomorrow". The Englishman has won five times in China and will be looking for his first victory of the season on Sunday. "It's always good to finish a day's running with no major problems and we don't look too far off".

Max Verstappen has been pleased with the pace that both he and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing have shown in the early stages of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

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Championship leader Vettel made a low-key start to the weekend and was only sixth, over 0.8s off Hamilton's eye-catching pace.

Hamilton said over team radio that it was good for only one qualifying lap before the best of the rubber had been used, and no driver managed to get much more than 10 laps in race simulation mode without complaining of severe degradation. Ferrari just outperformed us throughout the whole weekend. "I feel hungry, we are not a wounded beast, and I still believe we are the best team with the potential to win races and fight for this world championship".

Sainz's team mate Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.

Haas' Romain Grosjean and Williams' Lance Stroll finished comfortably adrift of the midfield after both making mistakes on their Ultrasoft push laps. Stoffel Vandoorne's session ended prematurely when he suspected that a wheel had not been sufficiently tightened after a live pitstop with 15 minutes remaining.

The Canadian, having gone slowest in the opening session, continued to prop up the timesheets in the afternoon.

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