Lewis Hamilton proved Friday afternoon in second practice that his Mercedes is back in race-winning contention as the Briton set the fastest time of the session, recording a 1:18:259, though just 0.133 seconds ahead of the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and third place Max Verstappen, in preparation for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.
"It will be close", he said. "Not really quite sure where Ferrari's pace was today, but they're probably sandbagging or something". "It's a shame it's only four hundredths but for us as a team, ideal result today". I felt better, I felt more grip.
Australian Ricciardo's auto had some eye-catching aerodynamic upgrades for the start of the European season and ended 0.133 seconds slower after crashing in the morning, while Verstappen was third. "We have been capitalising on circumstances like the outcome of the last race (in Baku), so I will take it for now but in the long term, the team can not rely on that".
Most teams brought significant updates to Spain, which marks the beginning of the European season in F1.
Vettel said he was happy with his lap.
Mercedes was fastest in all three practices in Barcelona, with Hamilton and Bottas leading the timesheets.
The two Red Bull drivers were once again left to rue their lack of additional power for a single lap, as they ended two-thirds of a second behind Hamilton on the third row.
"With the unanimous votes at both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County's Economic Development and Tourism Committee, we are very pleased to have received preliminary approval towards bringing a Formula One Grand Prix to Miami", said Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations at Formula One. A fuel pressure problem at the start of Q1 meant that he only had time for one hotlap at the end of the session.
The Ferrari team ran with a package of upgraded new parts on their cars including rear-view mirrors set on their "halo" head protectors.
His team-mate Brendon Hartley was not able to qualify as the team was unable to fix his vehicle in time following his crash in FP3. The new record of 1:16.173 may go unbeaten for several years as 2019's regulation changes are expected to make the cars 1.5s slower. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and spun into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the vehicle. He had to retire and lost a lot of track time.
Vettel agreed, but then with the Saturday sweeties to come, he is never overly troubled by Friday's returns "It has been a tricky day with the tyres".