Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes needs to be at the top of its game for the Chinese Grand Prix despite topping both Friday practice sessions.
Comfortably quickest in FP1, Hamilton was just 0.007s clear of Kimi Raikkonen in the second practice session, with Sebastian Vettel in fourth place also just 0.108s off the pace. On Friday’s long runs, Red Bull managed to match Mercedes’ pace, while Ferrari was quick but suffered higher levels of tire degradation, and the Briton says Mercedes can’t afford to drop its level after failing to win either of the opening two races.
“I think this is the third-easiest track to overtake, so it’s a good track for racing,” Hamilton said. “Obviously with the tires dropping off Turn 1 is a killer, Turn 8 is a killer and Turn 13 is a killer for the tires, but positioning is everything. I have had a pole, but I need to get another one so that is what we are working towards.
“I just remember texting earlier in the week, saying we really, really need to come with our A-game this week. That means every single individual in this team can’t have an off day. And if you are, don’t come! We all need everyone to be on it all weekend because it’s a joint effort.”
With the top three teams all looking closely matched, Hamilton says he is enjoying having a fight at the front even if he is already 17 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
“It was a good day and we got through all the laps that we needed and got some good feedback from the car,” he aid. “We’ve been progressing through all the sessions and we’ve got a good idea. It’s quite straightforward here because all the tires are quite similar in pace even though we have the double step between the ultrasoft and soft.
“It’s the norm. Ferrari are still quite quick and I think Red Bull were really quick on the long run. But it’s good to see all the times so close.”