Vettel encouraged by Ferrari pace


Sebastian Vettel expressed optimism over Ferrari's prospects at the Chinese Grand Prix after finishing second behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the second free practice session in Shanghai.

Reigning constructors' champions Mercedes have taken victory in the first two races of the season, courtesy of Nico Rosberg, and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton is seeking to taste success in China for the third year in succession.

However, while Mercedes were fastest in P1 on Friday, the quickest times later in the day came from Ferrari - Raikkonen posting the best lap of one minute and 36.896 seconds.

Vettel, who was just over a tenth of a second slower than Raikkonen, said: "It's only Friday but it looks like we might be able to get closer [to Mercedes] in qualifying."

Rosberg (+0.237secs) and Hamilton (+0.433secs) were the only drivers within a second of the two Ferraris, with Daniel Ricciardo (+1.247secs) - whose Red Bull took to the track in garish aerodynamic paint - and Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen (+1.372secs) the best of the rest.

Pirelli, meanwhile, insisted the issues that affected Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen in FP1 were not due to problems with their tyres.

Both Massa and Magnussen suffered punctures, but a tweet from Pirelli's official account read: "A full investigation has concluded that none of the deflations for Williams and Renault in #FP were tyre related. Separate technical issue."

Magnussen did not run in FP2 as Renault continued to investigate, while Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez was hindered by overheating brakes as he finished last of the 21 drivers to take to the track.

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:36.896
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:37.005
3. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:37.133
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:37.329
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:38.143
6. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) 1:38.268
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 1:38.527
8. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) 1:38.542
9. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:38.569
10. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:38.723