Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace in practice ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, but after enjoying a comfortable gap to rivals in first practice, the second session saw the Mercedes driver pressured as he outpaced Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen by just seven thousandths of a second.
In the morning session at the Shanghai International Circuit, Hamilton went more than three tenths of a second quicker than second-placed Räikkönen, but in the afternoon session, the Ferrari driver looked much more purposeful.
Half an hour into FP2, Hamilton bolted on a set of Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyres for the first time this weekend and set a benchmark of 1:33.482. Räikkönen held fire until later in the session but when he made the switch to a qualifying run he posted a time of 1:33.489 to split Mercedes’ drivers, as he had done in the morning. Valtteri Bottas thus finished in third place, just 0.026s behind his fellow Finn.
After a low-key opening session in which he finished more than eight tenths of a second off the pace, Sebastian Vettel had a more productive afternoon, finishing fourth. The German’s lap of 1:33.590 meant that the top four drivers were covered les just over a tenth of a second.
Behind Mercedes and Ferrari, Max Verstappen took fifth place for Red Bull Racing, with the Dutchman ending the session 0.341s behind Hamilton. While Verstappen enjoyed a smooth outing it was trickier for team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian was unhappy with his the throttle map of his car and also complained of a ‘long’ brake pedal during the session. He finished the 90 minutes in ninth place, a second off Hamilton’s pace.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg took sixth place, almost half a second off Ricciardo’s best lap. The German edged Haas’ Kevin Magnussen by 0.145s, with the second Renault of Carlos Sainz ending up eighth ahead of Ricciardo.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished in tenth place, but there was trouble for the Spaniard’s team-mate. The Belgian’s session was stopped 15 minutes from the chequered when he was released from the pit lane with a loose wheel and he had to pull over at the side of the track. He ended up 14th on the time sheet, behind Sergio Perez of Force India, Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and the second Force India of Esteban Ocon.
2018 Chinese Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 26 1:33.482
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 26 1:33.489 0.007
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 27 1:33.515 0.033
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 27 1:33.590 0.108
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 26 1:33.823 0.341
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 30 1:34.313 0.831
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 26 1:34.458 0.976
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 28 1:34.473 0.991
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 26 1:34.557 1.075
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 23 1:34.632 1.150
11 Sergio Perez Force India 30 1:34.792 1.310
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 33 1:34.849 1.367
13 Esteban Ocon Force India 30 1:34.874 1.392
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 22 1:35.163 1.681
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 37 1:35.333 1.851
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 31 1:35.340 1.858
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 29 1:35.624 2.142
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber 26 1:35.916 2.434
19 Romain Grosjean Haas 26 1:36.471 2.989
20 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 19 1:37.147 3.665