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.
As both Mercedes and Ferrari cars seemingly teed up a shoot-out for pole position on Saturday, Max Verstappen finished fifth in the order.
Sebastian Vettel has said his Ferrari vehicle needs some fine-tuning ahead of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix. After a competitive start to the season it was Raikkonen who again led the way on single-lap pace for Ferrari, and the Finn believes there is more to come from the auto in its current state. I think the vehicle has the pace but we need to make sure we get it to work. "It's always good to show respect and being that I'm the older driver, I felt it was important that I went to him".
"Ferrari are still quite quick".
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Added Bottas: "It's looking extremely close again with them (Ferrari) so I think tomorrow is going to be a close qualifying and for sure Sunday as well".
Even if Red Bull qualify outside the top four, Hamilton thinks the race will come down to tyre strategy as overtaking is relatively easy around the Shanghai International Circuit. Lewis Hamilton may have enjoyed a relatively comfortable advantage in Practice One but Ferrari were back with a vengeance a few hours later. "The auto, even though it was quick, it wasn't easy to drive at all", the Finn said.
"I don't feel that Ferrari did a better job in Australia, that would be unfair to say, because we outperformed them all weekend, it was just one little thing that tipped it over and sometimes you get lucky", he said of the virtual safety vehicle timing that allowed Vettel to make a pitstop and emerge ahead of him.
Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll propped up the timesheet after having spun during their qualifying simulation attempts - Stroll lost control at the high-speed right-hander of Turn 8, while Grosjean lost the rear at Turn 11. The session will be broadcast live on Star Sports Select 2 HD.
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