Chinese F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Results, Times from Friday's Practice

Lewis Hamilton has already faced setbacks in his 2018 Formula One campaign. Charles Coates  Getty Images

MercedesAMG's Lewis Hamilton said that he believes it will be hard to halt Ferrari's winning start to the season at the Chinese Grand Prix but still thinks MercedesAMG the strongest team.

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.

Mercedes lacked performance - Hamilton was 0.58secs off pole and fourth behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton wasted little time in putting his name at the top of the timesheets, with the Brit going quickest in each sector en route to a time of 1:34.962 before strapping on the soft tyre and lowering his mark to a scintillating 1:33.999, 0.359s ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

That meant Red Bull had a race against time to get the vehicle ready for qualifying and Ricciardo had only one lap in the first session to progress into Q2.

Bottas, too, was struggling. And while the Dutchman did clock his best time of the session a lap later, the tyres would have been slightly damaged.

The teams moved onto long runs as the session wore on, while the rain arrived toward the end. "We need everyone in the team to be on it throughout the weekend because it is a joint effort", he added. Practice one we had a lot of issues.

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Ricciardo was visibly aggressive - and impressive - out on track, in his attempts to claw back the time lost following an engine failureAnother emergency debrief for McLaren?

Sebastian Vettel was unable to unlock the same pace as his teammate and was forced to settle for P6 ahead of Kevin Magnussen who continued his excellent start to the season by once again outshining teammate Romain Grosjean.

Stoffel Vandoorne just about kept his McLaren out of the barriers when he slid off the road at Turn 10 and finished only 18th, six places behind team-mate Fernando Alonso. "We've been progressing through all the sessions and we've got a good idea of where we are".

"The vehicle doesn't feel much different so I think they have just turned it up".

"It was tricky because the wind was changing, sometimes it was more, sometimes it was less, and a bit gusty as well, so trying to look around the lap where the flags are to get a bit of a reference but the last lap in Q3 I knew I could step it up".

Vettel said: "I was happy with the whole lap, not just the last sector".



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