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Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Max Verstappen says Red Bull aren't far off Mercedes in China

Max Verstappen says Red Bull aren't far off Mercedes in China

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Chinese Grand Prix determined to put the brakes on Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel and Sunday's race offers the Briton the ideal opportunity to do just that and open his victory tally for the year.

Many pundits and fans believe it will be a three-horse race between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull and Hamilton knows he is in for a tough season of racing judging by how the opening two races have gone.

Mercedes needs to counter the early-season pace and form of Vettel, who somehow managed to last 39 laps on severely-worn tires in Bahrain to take a 17-point lead in the standings ahead of Hamilton.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton edged Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari by just 0.007secs in second practice at the Chinese GP.

Practice Three gets underway at 4am BST tomorrow morning before qualifying starts at 7am.

Red Bull aren't far off Mercedes and Ferrari in China according to Max Verstappen, who is expecting a close race on Sunday. So I'm anticipating they will be very, very fast and hard to beat. The former suffered no damage to his vehicle and went on to finish in third place, while the latter suffered a left rear puncture and damage to his diffuser and retired from the race two laps after the accident.

"I arrived here thinking I want to win the next 19 races, the title is not won and lost in two races", he said.

Shanghai is a track where Mercedes and Hamilton are traditionally strong.

There seems nearly nothing to choose between the top two teams on pure pace, with Red Bull a little off on one-lap performance but much closer on race pace. "We've been progressing through all the sessions and we've got a good idea of where we are".

His vehicle is definitely quick enough to challenge both Mercedes and Ferrari on a good track like China where overtaking is possible, and the very least he should be looking for to make up for his Bahrain errors is a podium finish. "But if we do, like this weekend, and we find the sweet spot, then I'm pretty confident that we can do well there as well".

"I'm just looking forward to getting started again here because I think we have a good package and have a lot of promising things coming", Verstappen said. We need to bring our A game every weekend, especially given how close it is.

Verstappen and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo both retired early last weekend in Bahrain, and they both had off-the-podium finishes in Australia: Ricciardo was fourth and Verstappen was sixth.

"I think this is the third easiest track to overtake, so it's a good track for racing".

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