Charles Leclerc talked up a potential three-team battle for supremacy at the Chinese Grand Prix, after admitting to being taken aback by Max Verstappen putting the Red Bull amongst Ferrari and Mercedes during Friday practice at the Shanghai International Circuit.

“I think it will be very close,” Leclerc said. “Mercedes and also Red Bull are actually quite close, so will be an interesting battle.

“Mercedes and Red Bull, well… everyone is pretty close here.

“We definitely did not expect Red Bull to be so close, but it’s a good surprise, at least there will be some fight on track. Really looking forward to it.”

“FP2 was not great, we had to stop for further checks on something on the oil; we will check it but no big issues,” he said.

“In terms of performance I think we are there. In FP2 I didn’t have a clean lap, so pointless to look at performance but overall I think I’m pretty happy with the car. Still some work to do on the balance here and there but should be fine for tomorrow.”