Nico Rosberg unsure of Mercedes race pace vs Ferrari

nico rosberg

Nico Rosberg is unsure whether the Mercedes Formula 1 team’s single-lap performance advantage over Ferrari in Chinese Grand Prix practice will translate into race pace.

After Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari defeated Mercedes in Malaysia, Lewis Hamilton appeared to re-establish the champion team’s edge as he topped both Friday sessions in China.

Rosberg agreed that Mercedes looked very strong for qualifying pace but he said tyre wear could make the race closer.

“All in all it was good because I found a direction with the set-up slowly but surely,” he said of his Friday. I’m not 100 per cent sure but it’s OK.

“In terms of one-lap pace, I think we’re quickest.

“In terms of race pace, let’s wait and see. We need to analyse our tyre wear.”

Hamilton said he expects Ferrari to be just as strong as it was in Malaysia come Sunday.

“They look quite quick,” he said. “Just as quick as they did in the last race.”

But Vettel believes Ferrari needs to find more performance to truly have a shot at Mercedes again.

“It will be very close,” he said. “They were very strong today in both sessions and all their runs.

“What’s most important for us is to make sure we do a step overnight.

“I think there’s a couple of things we can improve on and then we’ll see where it takes us.

“Priority number one is to be right behind and if we have a chance to fight them then we will try.

“If not, we have to make sure nobody gets ahead of us.”

Kimi Raikkonen was second for Ferrari in practice two, four tenths behind Hamilton, with Vettel a further seven tenths back in fourth, having been third – a second off the pace – in the morning.

Rosberg was only fifth in the afternoon, 1.1s behind Hamilton, but he put the deficit down to a mistake at the end of his soft-tyre lap.

“It’s free practice, so that’s the time to try different things,” he said.

“I tried a different line in the last corner and it went wrong so I’ll know better for tomorrow.”


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