Sebastian Vettel says he is looking to get as close to Mercedes as possible in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, but accepts beating it will prove difficult.

Fresh from his surprise win for Ferrari last time out in Malaysia, Vettel comes to Shanghai looking to consolidate the team's position as the greatest threat to the dominant Mercedes team.

Indeed, despite a clumsy spin early on in FP2, Vettel recovered to fourth fastest overall, behind Lewis Hamilton, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. Nonetheless, he is certain there is more to come ahead of qualifying.

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"I feel happy in the car, but we can improve it, that's what Friday is for," he said. "I would love to have done more laps, but overall it was a solid session for the team, so we can a step forward tomorrow and then we will see what we can do."

Despite the win in Malaysia, Vettel insists the focus remains on methodically improving Ferrari's pace so that it can mount a consistent challenge to the top.

"In general we have a good car, so we can always be confident, but it's still early days. For us, target number one is to make sure we are right behind Mercedes and accept they are very strong. As the season goes on we will try to get closer and closer."