Chinese GP, Practice Two: Valtteri Bottas quickest from Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen
Bottas 0.027s ahead of Vettel; Verstappen two tenths back but makes error; Leclerc's Ferrari suffers cooling issue as he and Hamilton fail to get clean qualifying runs
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 12/04/19 12:17pm
Valtteri Bottas set the best time of Friday practice at the Chinese GP as he pipped Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in Practice Two.
The championship leader posted a best time of 1:33.330 to edge out Vettel's Ferrari by just 0.027s, with Verstappen two tenths back in the Red Bull.
But Verstappen made a big error out of the final corner, suggesting his true pace could have matched Bottas', while Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc failed to get clean qualifying simulations.
It sets things up for an intriguing Saturday with all of the 'Big Three' teams appearing in the mix. Practice Three is at 4am before qualifying gets underway from 7am, live and exclusive on Sky Sports F1.
"We knew Ferrari and Mercedes would be quick but it's great to see Red Bull in the mix. It's only a couple of tenths between the top three which is brilliant," said Sky F1's Johnny Herbert.
Hamilton, who span on his opening lap out of the pits, aborted his lap after running over debris from Romain Grosjean suffering a front wing failure and ended fourth, seven tenths off his team-mate.
Meanwhile Leclerc, the star of the Bahrain GP weekend, was only seventh fastest and eight tenths back after hitting traffic on his first flying lap and then making an error on his second attempt.
And he had to sit out the final 30 minutes of the session as Ferrari took apart his car to do a cooling system check, but the team said there was "no big concern" and the check was precautionary.
Verstappen also complained of problems with the clutch and gearbox on his Red Bull during the closing stages of the session.
Renault and McLaren impress
Nico Hulkenberg ensured Renault made a strong start to the weekend after their Bahrain reliability problems, finishing fifth, well within of a second of the lead, and just ahead of Carlos Sainz's McLaren.
Lando Norris was just behind Leclerc in the sister McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo closely following in the second Renault. Just over two tenths of a second covered the Renault works team and Renault customer team.
But Pierre Gasly was again well off the time of team-mate Verstappen, ending the session in 10th and eight tenths off the leading Red Bull.
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The Frenchman was a tenth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo and two tenths in front of the two Toro Rosso cars.
Haas suffered a difficult session in addition to Grosjean's wing failure, with the Frenchman ending 17th and Kevin Magnussen just a place ahead.
But it remains a tight midfield battle, with less than half a second covering 9th to 16th.
Chinese GP Practice Two Timesheet
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.221|
|Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+1.125|
|Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.221|
|Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||+1.304|
|Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+1.364|
|Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+1.449|
|Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+1.454|
|Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+2.584|
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