WE ARE not even three races into the new season and there are already rumours swirling as to who will be Lewis Hamilton's team-mate next year.
MercedesAMG has 4 wins running at the Shanghai International Circuit, but Mr. Hamilton is looking for a battle with his main rival at the weekend. But their cars clipped each other and the Dutchman, well known for taking risks and pushing the envelope, wound up with a punctured tire and was forced to retire.
But the four-time champion - and defending champion with Mercedes - was not happy.
"It is not yet there where I want to be", said Vettel.
That damaged the rim on Verstappen's auto and caused an immediate puncture, which led to the differential being terminally wounded as he limped back to the pits.
"It has been a good day", said Hamilton. It's quite simple and easy to blame the younger driver.
"So the mindset, the strength in which I have now, I wish I had then because it would have changed my life I would imagine back then". I had a fair shot at it.
"There was nothing insane, nothing risky. Unfortunately this time it didn't work out".
While pre-season talk suggested it was "business as usual" for the Briton, Hamilton insists that this season is altogether tougher.
But that won't lessen the tension on Sunday.
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Hamilton and Vettel will then go head to head on Sunday's race with proceedings starting at 7.10am.
As both Mercedes and Ferrari cars seemingly teed up a shoot-out for pole position on Saturday, Max Verstappen finished fifth in the order.
In contrast Daniel Ricciardo, who finished ninth, half a second off his team-mate in FP2, struggled but is confident pace can be found.
"When I got to Shanghai the weather was really good, but it's gone downhill - now we got the rain and it's cold". In Australia a software problem cost Hamilton a likely win.
Hamilton was highly impressive in setting the fastest time in the first session on Friday, but the frontrunners closed in the second.
Verstappen was the youthful promise when - at 17 in 2015 - he became the youngest driver to race in Formula One.
The third Grand Prix of the 2018 F1 season will take place in China this weekend.
Qualifying starts at 11.25am IST on April 14. The only bright spot early was his podium in China.
Replays of the incident showed that Verstappen was more at fault despite being given the room to pull off the overtaking maneuver which caused the collision.
"You can't say that they were ideal and neither were we".