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Hamilton dominates opening practice session in China

14 April 2018

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, under pressure following a middling display in Bahrain a week ago, was third, just 0.033 sec off the pace, while Vettel was also only one-tenth down.

In FP1 Hamilton had been over 0.35s clear of Kimi Raikkonen while using a harder compound of tire, but the second practice session saw the gap reduced to just 0.007s as the front-runners all carried out lower fuel runs on the ultrasoft tire.

Hamilton was caught on camera after the Sakhir race labelling Verstappen a "dickhead" for his part in a coming together the pair had at Turn 1 in the early stages of the race.

"It is not yet there where I want to be", said Vettel.

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There seems nearly nothing to choose between the top two teams on pure pace, with Red Bull a little off on one-lap performance but much closer on race pace.

The momentum continues to be with Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel as they arrive in Shanghai on the back of wins in Australia and Bahrain. It will be interesting to see how their reliability will be - as it will be for Renault and us. We've got some good feedback about the vehicle. "It's a tricky one to get everything right", said Vettel, also a four-time champion, looking ahead to the Chinese race after his Bahrain win. "We weren't fast enough there".

Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, Hamilton was very subtle saying that it was misfortune for the Mercedes that led to Ferrari winning the season opener in Australia, instead of Ferrari doing a better job.

And Hamilton will be desperately hoping the Shanghai International Circuit delivers a sixth win for him as he bids to claw back the 17-point deficit to championship leader Vettel.

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Both races were heavily influenced by strategy, suggesting this season's championship will be fought as much on the pit wall as on the track. Like in Bahrain, Red Bull showed a better turn of pace during the race simulations at the backend of the session.

"The balance of the auto is good but we have some fine-tuning to do on it tonight".

Red Bull's Verstappen made contact with Hamilton as he passed the Brit early in last week's race, although it was his own vehicle that was damaged to the point that he later had to retire.

But there was trouble for McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, who stopped out on track shortly before the end of the afternoon session with a loose wheel, in what was the fifth occasion so far in 2018 that an F1 auto has left the pits with a tire not properly attached.

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"However, the vehicle is not yet where I want it to be".

Hamilton dominates opening practice session in China