Sebastian Vettel believes that Red Bull will be closer to the front than what they were in Bahrain.
The energy drink squad couldn't keep up with Mercedes and Ferrari at the Sakhir circuit, after taking a podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix.
In Bahrain, Max Verstappen was almost a second away from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc. The team was denied a podium finish late on as a safety car halted Verstappen from overtaking Leclerc, whose pace fell off dramatically after he was hit with an engine issue.
But Vettel expects that it will be back on form this weekend: "It was useful to get some laps in the car," he sad of the post-Bahrain test. "I think we learned some things about car behaviour that maybe we didn’t or couldn’t in Barcelona because we were looking at other things.
"And to be fair the behaviour in Barcelona was very strong. So hopefully I have a better feeling in the car this weekend.
“Bahrain was already a lot better and the test afterwards gave me and us the chance to try some things. With those findings we come here now and see where they take us.
“We need to get everything right [in China]. It’s extremely tight at the top. I expect Red Bull to be closer here than they were in Bahrain – I’m not sure what happened there. But I expect it to be very close.”
Vettel struggled to keep up with teammate Leclerc in Bahrain and found himself spinning out when battling with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, which resulted in a shattered front wing and eventually crossed the line in fifth place.
"I wasn’t happy with my performance, not happy with the feeling yet with the car, the feeling I had in testing and so on," Vettel admitted.
"I know that I can be better and I know that we have lots of races to show and prove that. But at least when I’m not at the top of it, it’s good that he is.
“It was a surprise when we came to Australia and the car wasn’t anywhere near what we had in Barcelona, with the car being very alive and unstable.
"Bahrain I think the conditions were tricky and everyone was struggling with the wind and so on. We were surprised to find ourselves faster down the straights that other people, especially with Australia having been on the back foot. We’ll see where we are here.”