Sports

We're coming for you

Ricciardo warns Mercedes that Red Bull are gaining ground on the Silver Arrows

Daniel Ricciardo sounded a warning to Mercedes after the first practice sessions for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix.

Having won the opening three races of the season, Mercedes still appear to be the dominant force in Shanghai as Lewis Hamilton topped the times in yesterday's second practice session.

Teammate and drivers' standings leader Nico Rosberg was third, but appeared to have been hampered on his fastest lap by yellow warning flags waved after Pastor Maldonado crashed his Lotus at the pit-lane entrance.

With a clear run, Rosberg may have bettered Hamilton's time.

The Silver Arrows were split by a resurgent Ferrari, driven by Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard had earlier set the fastest time in the first practice session.

Ricciardo's Red Bull was fourth, just half a second behind Hamilton with his teammate and world champion Sebastian Vettel in fifth, two-tenths of a second further back.

The encouraging session prompted Ricciardo to say afterwards that Mercedes should be aware that Red Bull "are coming".

But the affable Australian admitted that it would take a little more time.

"There won't be any deposing going on this weekend," Ricciardo said. "I would like to think that we have caught up, but I think they (Mercedes) have got a bit more in there that they didn't show today."

Vettel agreed.

FAVOURITES

"Maybe they didn't run full beans today. They are still the favourites and are still quite far away," said the German four-time world champion.

"I was behind the Mercedes on the long run and it looked like they could do what they want.

"For us it was a good day but not yet on the level of the top guys."

Ricciardo talked enthusiastically about his chances for today's qualifying session.

"We'd like second row in qualifying tomorrow. That's the aim at the moment," he said.

"We are making small improvements. The gap is a big one so it's not going to come down over one race, but I feel that we have crept up a little bit more."

By contrast Hamilton, despite setting the fastest time, was unhappy with the handling of his Mercedes throughout the day, complaining of understeer and later saying on team radio: "There's something wrong with this car. I'm coming in."

Rosberg said it wasn't only Hamilton having problems, given the nature of the Shanghai circuit with long bends under braking.

"Lewis had understeer, I had understeer also, but everybody has that problem here because the circuit destroys your front tyres," said Rosberg.

"You just have to figure out a way round that.

"Turn one is a tyre-killer because it never ends, it goes on and on and on." - AFP.