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SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Ferrari's continued resurgence in Formula One was evident on Friday with both cars looking competitive in the first two practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen chased home the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in the morning and repeated the feat behind the German's team mate Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon, trailing both by identical 0.373-second margins at a circuit where he has won twice before.
Sebastian Vettel also looked far closer to the Mercedes duo than he did in finishing a distant third, more than 30 seconds adrift, on an otherwise impressive debut with the Italian outfit at the season-opening race in Australia two weeks ago.
The German was third in the first practice session but spun off at Turn 11 in the second when he was on course for a quick lap on the faster medium tires and was forced to settle for seventh place along with a solid race simulation run.
"Today we did all we were supposed to do," Raikkonen told reporters.
"In the morning, the feeling with the car was better... in the afternoon was a bit more tricky, we had some handling issues and some problems with the wind and the heat, but the lap time were not so bad."
Ruing a red flag during the second session when he was fitted with the faster medium-compound tires, Raikkonen still feels there is room for improvement.
"The car is still not perfect, but I'm sure we can improve for tomorrow," he added. "We have some work to do on the set up to make everything easier but we'll do our best and we'll see
where we end up in qualifying."
Vettel was also disappointed with his momentary loss of control but still saw the positive side of his day's work.
"I am not entirely happy with myself, I was pushing too much but it didn't work out in the end and I spun. But if you have to choose a day where you want to try things, you choose Friday," he said, admitting that Mercedes were still some way ahead in terms of performance.
"It will be close between us and Williams, and probably Red Bull as well," the four-times world champion added. "Mercedes didn't have a clean day but are still very strong but we have to look now after ourselves."
Editing by Ed Osmond