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Hamilton just ahead in tight second practice in Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton, Chinese Grand Prix
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton led the way again in the second Friday free practice session for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

However the Mercedes driver's edge over Kimi Raikkonen was just seven thousandths of a second. In total, just over a tenth covered the top four which included Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.

The workmanlike session saw a handful of minor lock-ups and spins, and a problem for McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne. The arrival of light rain in the final quarter of an hour effectively brought FP2 to an early close.

Chinese Grand Prix - Free Practice 2

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.482s 26
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.489s + 0.007s 26
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.515s + 0.033s 27
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.590s + 0.108s 27
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:33.823s + 0.341s 26
6 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:34.313s + 0.831s 30
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:34.458s + 0.976s 26
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:34.473s + 0.991s 28
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.557s + 1.075s 26
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:34.632s + 1.150s 23
11 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:34.792s + 1.310s 30
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:34.849s + 1.367s 33
13 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:34.874s + 1.392s 30
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:35.163s + 1.681s 22
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:35.333s + 1.851s 37
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:35.340s + 1.858s 31
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:35.624s + 2.142s 29
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:35.916s + 2.434s 26
19 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:36.471s + 2.989s 26
20 Lance Stroll Williams 1:37.147s + 3.665s 19

The forecast rain had continued to hold off over lunchtime in Shanghai, although conditions remained grey and overcast. Of more trouble to the drivers was the strong headwind, which encouraged both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen into early lock-ups and run-offs at turn 11.

The two Haas cars were first into action when the track opened for business. However it was Valtteri Bottas who set the first properly representative lap on soft tyres, clocking in at 1:34.387s on the soft compound just 12 minutes into the 90-minute session - already faster than he's managed in the morning.

Hamilton was the first man to complete a run on ultrasoft tyres. His lap of 1:33.482s was the fastest of the day, set shortly before the half hour mark. Bottas was able to get within 0.033s of his Mercedes team mate on his own run on the purple-marked compound.

Raikkonen's first stint had been curtailed with a software problem on the Ferrari. However this was soon rectified and he was able to insert himself into the narrow gap between the Mercedes drivers. His ultrasoft offering was just seven thousandths of a second off Hamilton, slotting him into second place.

Sebastian Vettel was also very much in contention in fourth, a fraction over a tenth away from Hamilton's top time. Max Verstappen was a further quarter of a second back for Red Bull.

There were no major incidents during the session, although both Lance Stroll (Williams) and Romain Grosjean (Haas) had proper spins at turns 8 and 11 respectively within moments of each other. There were also local waved yellows while Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren was removed having stopped trackside with an apparent loose right-rear following a pit stop.

The second half of FP2 was dedicated to distance runs, as teams assessed the rate of tyre wear on the rough Shanghai surface. The final quarter hour also saw the start of drizzle which soon morphed into light rain, preventing anyone from challenging the timesheets before the chequered flag.

Behind the top five there was a full half second gap to Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Haas' Kevin Magnussen. The second Renault of Carlos Sainz finished eighth fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who'd had some early trouble getting a pedal map he was happy with for the Red Bull. The top ten was rounded out by Fernando Alonso in the McLaren.

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