Australian Daniel Ricciardo has finished third fastest after the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
Ricciardo clocked a time of 1:38.311 to be four-tenths of a second quicker than Red Bull teammate Daniil Kvyat who ended Friday in seventh, but still well behind the Mercedes of early Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Ricciardo was much happier with the car after some changes were made, seemingly just in time too – a day earlier, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz reiterated his threat to pull out of Formula One if he could not field a competitive team.
“We had a few aero updates and drivability is always getting better,” Ricciardo said.
“We definitely have had an improvement and that’s all we can ask for.”
Hamilton was just over a full second quicker than Ricciardo with a time of 1:37.219, which Mercedes say is 1.2 seconds faster than any practice time from the race in 2014.
The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was second, while his teammate and Malaysian GP winner Sebastian Vettel was fourth – Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes was fifth.
Hamilton expected the flying Finn and Malaysian Grand Prix winner Vettel to provide stiff opposition come raceday.
“It’s quite close between us and Ferrari,” Hamilton said.
“I think we definitely will have a race like we said we would.”
In notable news, the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button improved dramatically to be midfield on the timesheets rather than down the bottom where they had been for the first two races of the season.
The session was punctuated by a spinning Felipe Massa in his Williams and also a fan sprinting onto the circuit.
The intruder scaled a three-metre fence separating the grandstand from the track, dashed across the starting grid and then leapt over the pit wall and through a gap in the fence.
The man made it into pit lane before being apprehended by security staff.
FIA, the sport’s governing body, was investigating the incident, which did not cause a delay to the practice session.