Sebastian Vettel says he expects Ferrari to be embroiled in a 'close' fight with Williams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso despite a day in which the team appeared nearer to the dominant Mercedes.

The former champion endured a fraught day as he and his rivals struggled for grip, Vettel suffering a spin at turn 11 in FP2 after admitting to 'pushing a little too much'.

However, though team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was just three tenths shy of Lewis Hamilton at the end of the day - a performance that caught the eye of last year's title winner -, Vettel is less convinced of Ferrari's pace in Sepang, suggesting he expects a closer fight with up to three other teams.

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"It's quite hot which makes it difficult for all the cars to work with the tyres, but all in all I think it was a decent day," he said. "I'm not entirely happy with myself, I had a spin, but I think you have to try and if there's a day you choose to try then probably today is the day."

"I pushed a little bit too hard when I spun. We are here to try, I tried and it went a little bit wrong. The spin was nothing to do with bad luck, it's to do with me pushing a little bit too much thinking I could make it stick and I couldn't. So I guess if you choose a day you choose today.

"I think it's difficult to say where we are compared to Mercedes, they didn't have a clean day," he continued. "I think it will be close between us and Williams. Probably Red Bull as well and the Toro Rossos. It's difficult to say, it's a mixed bag. But at the front Mercedes is strong."