Lewis Hamilton says he is ready for the challenge of trying to fight for victory in the Chinese Grand Prix after showing strong pace in Friday practice in Shanghai.

The McLaren driver topped the times in the first session on a drying track and then ended FP2 second fastest behind the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher.

With a five-place grid penalty looming due to a gearbox change that will be made before the final session on Saturday, Hamilton's focus will now be on qualifying as high up the grid as possible, with the Briton saying he was ready for the challenge of fighting back through the pack.

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"It's been a great day - it stayed dry in the afternoon so we successfully got through our run programme," he said. "We're still working away to improve the set-up, but the new bits on the car seem to be working: the guys back at the factory have done a great job.

"We look competitive - and I've been particularly focusing on the longer runs for this weekend. We still need to make a few improvements but our car looks good.

"I'll be changing the gearbox on my car before P3. It's going to be a close qualifying session tomorrow - it'll be a good battle and hopefully we can start as high up the grid as possible because I think we'll still be in the race and among the leading group. I love the challenge of coming through and gaining positions."

Team-mate Jenson Button was sixth quickest in the sister car although he was less happy with his performance on track, having struggled to find a set-up in the low temperatures that affected both sessions.

"It's been a little bit of a difficult day for me," he said. "I was trying to find a good set-up but the cold weather made it difficult to understand the car because the tyres weren't working perfectly.

"Tomorrow should be a bit warmer than today - we don't quite understand the tyre temperatures and can't get them quite in the right area. And if we make a set-up change and the tyre temp changes by five or 10 degrees, then that change goes out the window.

"That's something for us to sort out, but we've got a lot of useful information from the low- and high-fuel runs. It's been a tricky day but there's a lot of good information to go through - we'll find a better direction overnight."