Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen comfortably locked out the top two positions on the grid with strong form throughout the session in Shanghai - with Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton more than half a second slower.
Vettel has a 17-point lead over Hamilton after winning the opening two races of the season.
After retiring on the first lap in Bahrain, the 19-year-old looked to have returned to his blistering form of old when surging into fourth place on lap 39. But it happens. I appreciate the fact that he came to me straight away.
Bottas admitted Mercedes simply could not find the grip Ferrari did, and the silver cars appeared to be struggling to generate the correct tyre temperatures in the cool conditions in Shanghai. It's not exactly what I wanted.
" he did a mistake, then he even secured up that transpires". We've been underperforming and yesterday and today have been a disaster on my side so I've got to try to rectify that and get myself back into my normal performance mode otherwise, more valuable points will be lost.
Verstappen, whose teammate Ricciardo put on a superb overtaking display to claim victory, accepted full responsibility. I tried to defend but ultimately he had much better tyres he could brake quite a lot later on the inside. "That was of course my fault", Verstappen told Sky Sports F1. It's not what you want and it's easy to say afterwards "I should have waited".
"It's easy to comment just at the moment". However, does this mean I must calm down? "It was a tight session but I think again a great result for the team". It's just very unfortunate those things happening. "I was trying to hold on, but my tires were done, so I had no chance of keeping the Red Bulls behind".
When asked how he felt his pace was compared to Vettel before the Safety Car was deployed, Bottas said: "It felt like everything was under control and I had no major drop off in the end".
"Not anymore, he's done enough races. That can happen in racing".
"If we are in the sweet spot, the vehicle is very fast", said Wolff. "He could have shot his front off, get yourself a puncture or whatever". Then it's game over for both of us in that case. "But that's how it goes".
A late incident involving Max Verstappen and Vettel saw the Ferrari man drop to eighth and the Dutchman served with a 10-second penalty, but Hamilton took little consolation from his rival's misfortune in a race eventually won by Daniel Ricciardo.