P1: Vettel ahead of Hamilton

Ferrari strike first Shanghai blow on slower tyres compared to Mercedes; Leclerc runs repaired engine which cost him Bahrain win

Last Updated: 12/04/19 4:47am

Sebastian Vettel outpaced Lewis Hamilton to begin an important Chinese GP weekend for himself and Ferrari with a place at the head of the Practice One timesheet.

Having admitted on Thursday that “I can do better” after an underwhelming beginning to his season, Vettel made a fast start in Shanghai and set the early pace from Mercedes rival Hamilton by 0.207s, despite not using Pirelli’s fastest tyres.

Bahrain GP star Charles Leclerc was third in the second Ferrari, close behind Hamilton, and he too stayed on the mediums rather than the quicker soft compound.

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“The Ferrari has the pace we expected,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.

Ferrari also ran the engine which developed the critical problem which cost Leclerc a maiden win a fortnight ago after repairs at their Maranello base. In a further apparant early boost for the Italian team, the unit appeared to run without problem.

Max Verstappen was fourth-fastest for Red Bull, ahead of championship leader Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.

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Daniel Ricciardo, who has yet to score points for Renault, was an encouraging sixth-fastest in the lead RS19.

More to follow…

Watch the Chinese GP, F1’s 1,000th race, live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sky Sports is the home of live and exclusive F1. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live

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