Mercedes Valtteri Bottas was two-hundredths of a second faster than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix. The Finn moved up from fourth to fastest after he switched to the softest compound of tyre.
His teammate Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest after setting his fastest time on the slower compound, the five times champion half a second slower than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in third. However, the Dutchman suffered a big error on his qualifying run.
However, both Mercedes drivers had pretty much identical spins early in the session, when rounding the interconnected Turns One and Two just after exiting the pits.
But it wasn’t only Verstappen problem, as Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc failed to get clean qualifying simulations. Hamilton managed still to go forth, while the Monacan was only seventh fastest. The five-time champion was half a second behind Verstappen and just half-a-tenth faster than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
Leclerc also ran into problems later in the session – he was unable to do his race-simulation run because of a problem with the cooling system.
Carlos Sainz continued McLaren’s recent strong form with sixth fastest, eight tenths off the pace and a hundredth faster than Leclerc. Leclerc was only able to improve by a tenth on his last fast run, putting him ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris.
However, Leclerc’s running in the session was curtailed after 13 laps as he returned to the garage for cooling checks “as a precaution to avoid any damage”.
Renault continued their strong start in Shanghai, Hulkenberg’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo was not far off Norris. The teams’ power unit is proving stronger following its update for this weekend, and following reliability issues in Bahrain.
Kimi Raikkonen had shown some pace early on in FP2, however, the Finn was pushed down to eleventh ahead of the Toro Rosso of Alex Albon. The Racing Point duo Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez could only manage thirteenth and fourteenth ahead of Kevin Magnussen, with just nine thousandths between the three.
Daniil Kvyat was fifteenth after losing the first half of the session because of a precautionary power unit change, which the team said was because of finding an “anomaly” in the first session.
Romain Grosjean was well off the pace in seventeenth, the Haas driver lost his front wing. It appears as he went to break on the right side, apparently thanks to the loads created by the bumps on the approach to Turn One.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was eighteenth after missing most of FP1 with an engine-related problem, was 18th ahead of the two Williams drivers, with Robert Kubica leading George Russell.