Sebastian Vettel has echoed the concerns of his fellow drivers in suggesting that tyre problems could be a significant issue in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix - as he joked that at least his helmet and visor will 'protect his eyes as the rubber is coming off!'

There has been much criticism of Bridgestone's decision to take its super-soft compound rubber to Shanghai, a circuit that is abrasive at the best of times - and likely to be even more so now the race is being held substantially earlier in the year than usual, with the hotter temperatures that brings with it. Vettel - fifth-quickest in free practice today, just shy of half a second away from the leading pace - fears there may be trouble ahead...

"Overall, it was a quite good day," the young German remarked. "Unfortunately, in the second practice we had a problem with the rear suspension; it was going to take too much time to fix, so we had to stop earlier than planned.

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"Nevertheless, we got some useful information from the car. The main task here for all the teams and drivers is to manage the different tyre compounds. As you can see, graining is the main issue, but thankfully I have my helmet and visor, which protects my eyes as the rubber is coming off!"

"We did the normal tyre comparisons today, which are important ahead of Sunday as they might be quite a challenge here," concurred Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber, a fraction ahead of Vettel in fourth place at the close of proceedings.

"The guys did a great job and the car ran faultlessly, which is always a benefit on a Friday. We've dried out from Malaysia and, instead, we had perfect driving conditions today, so we'll see how we go tomorrow. I enjoyed it out there."