Hertfordshire's Lewis Hamilton dominates first Chinese F1 Grand Prix practice

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

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

In addition to Hamilton, several other drivers also suffered spins on Friday, with the cold and windy conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit proving hard to cope with.

Vettel, victor of the first two races in Australia and Bahrain, was 0.862 seconds off Hamilton's pace. As the Formula 1 track layouts differ, we will get a better perspective of the outright package that Ferrari and Vettel have this season.

But the four-time champion - and defending champion with Mercedes - was not happy.

"But also I know in my mind that okay, there are 19 races to go". And it's easy to also get ahead of yourself and forget also the respect for the other guys. "We've just got to put it all together".

Verstappen didn't back down on Thursday in Shanghai and defended his driving.

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Hamilton had always spoken of the man he sees as a future champion in glowing terms, but was heard swearing in reference to him immediately after Sunday's race.

"Yeah it was good, " Verstappen said.

"So the mindset, the strength in which I have now, I wish I had then because it would have changed my life I would imagine back then". I had a fair shot at it.

"There was nothing insane, nothing risky. Unfortunately this time it didn't work out". Hamilton revealed that he had apologized to Verstappen and made it clear that the incident is now in the past. He said he might, but only "if it's really necessary".

Between the Red Bulls were Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz as both Renault and Haas again looked like being the front-runners in terms of the remaining points positions, with all three getting within a second of Hamilton's time.

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Sebastian Vettel set the fourth-best time, a touch slower than a tenth of a second off the pace, while Max Verstappen, the fastest Red Bull Racing driver, was 0.341 seconds behind the headline time.

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. 2016's Chinese Grand Prix contained the highest number of overtakes of that year.

"Well we have to get a really good qualifying in but in general even when that doesn't happen I think in the race we will be competitive and in this track you can overtake". In Australia a software problem cost Hamilton a likely win.

The Englishman is easily the most successful driver in the 14-year history of the Chinese race with five wins, and he buoyed Mercedes hopes of a fightback by leading the pack in both of Friday's sessions. Ferrari's last triumph at the Shanghai International Circuit came in 2013 with Fernando Alonso. "We're here to finish on the podium and win races".

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