Formula 1 championship leader Valtteri Bottas edged out Sebastian Vettel to set the pace as Mercedes responded to Ferrari during second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Ferrari had held an advantage of around two-tenths as Vettel led the way on harder tyres in the opening session, but Bottas moved to the top of the timesheets in FP2 by setting a 1m33.330s on Pirelli’s softest compound as drivers completed their qualifying simulations.

Vettel ended up just 0.027s behind the Finn on the same tyre compound, with Max Verstappen two tenths further back in third place in what was an encouraging showing for the Honda-powered Red Bull squad. The Dutchman posted the outright fastest first sector and a mistake at the final corner suggested there was more time to come from his RB15.

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Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton ended up seven tenths adrift of his Mercedes teammate in fourth, after both he and Bottas had suffered early spins on their respective outlaps. Hamilton also had his second qualifying simulation run disrupted by debris caused by a front wing failure on Romain Grosjean's Haas. 

Renault enjoyed a strong session as Nico Hulkenberg set the fifth-fastest time to get within 0.059s of Hamilton’s effort, with the German outpacing McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who wound up over eight-tenths off the pace after encountering traffic on his only flying run on the soft tyres.

Leclerc was then restricted to the Ferrari garage for the rest of the session while the Italian squad carried out "cooling system checks" on the Monegasque’s SF90.

Lando Norris was eighth fastest as McLaren looks to continue its promising start to the new season, with the Briton ending up quicker than new Renault signing Daniel Ricciardo in ninth and Pierre Gasly, who rounded out the top 10 in his Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen ended the session 11th fastest and 1.221s seconds off the pace in his Alfa Romeo, ahead of the Toro Rosso duo headed by rookie Alexander Albon. A precautionary power unit change - Honda’s first of the year - left teammate Daniil Kvyat garage-bound for the first half of FP2, before he finally emerged with 40 minutes remaining on his way to posting the 13th-quickest time.

A further tenth back came the Racing Point pair of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez in 14th and 15th respectively, while it was a disappointing showing from Haas as Kevin Magnusson and Grosjean ended up towards the bottom of the timesheets. Grosjean’s programme was disrupted by a bizarre front wing failure, while Magnussen was seen shedding bits from the undertray of his Haas early on.

Antonio Giovinazzi finally got a laptime on the board for Alfa Romeo following his engine issues in FP1 as he finished over 2.5s off the pace in 18th, two tenths clear of the Williams pair of Robert Kubica and George Russell, with the British squad once again propping up the order.

 

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