F1 Raceweek: Mercedes looking for response after Vettel's winning start

Lewis Hamilton said walking away from F1 at the end of this season is not on his mind at the moment.

Mercedes will be looking to bring Ferrari back down to earth at the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend.

Following the Silver Arrows' three-year domination of Formula One, 2017 promised the dawn of a new competitive era for the sport, and Sebastian Vettel's win in Australia backed up those claims. 

The result marked a first victory for Vettel and Ferrari since September 2015, forcing Lewis Hamilton and new team-mate Valtteri Bottas into second and third respectively.

But Shanghai has been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes-powered cars over the past decade - having won seven of the past nine grands prix.

Ferrari have registered just one victory since winning three of the first four events in China (Fernando Alonso in 2012), while Vettel's last win at this circuit came during his debut Red Bull season 2009.

Red Bull are out for an improvement on their Albert Park showing, with Max Verstappen having finished fifth and Daniel Ricciardo retiring on home soil.

 

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM PRACTICE

Not a lot.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen went quickest but he was one of only 14 drivers to set a time in a session that was abandoned as mist grounded the medical helicopter.

Poor visibility in Shanghai made landing at the designated hospital impossible, prompting officials to call off the sessions on safety grounds.

The lack of any Friday practice could make for an unpredictable race weekend, with teams now limited to FP3 in their quest to fine-tune their preparations for qualifying and the race.

 

THE STANDINGS

Drivers
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 25 points
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 18 points
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 15 points
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 12 points
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 10 points

Constructors
1. Ferrari - 37 points
2. Mercedes - 33 points
3. Red Bull - 10 points
4. Williams - 8 points
5. Force India - 7 points

 

LAST FIVE WINNERS

2016: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2015: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2013: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2012: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

 

WEATHER FORECAST

With heavy rain forecast for the 12 hours leading up to Sunday's race, there had been some calls for both qualifying and the race to be staged on Saturday.

However, the logistical headache of altering the schedule appears to have put paid to any changes.

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