Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Bottas on pole in Shanghai as Mercedes dominate qualifying

Remains tight at the top! FP3 Summary and results Thai F1 driver Albon survives spectacular crash | Bangkok Post: news
Shannon Reynolds | 14 April, 2019, 09:56

Championship leader Valtteri Bottas beat teammate Lewis Hamilton to pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix as the two were split by just 0.023s in a Mercedes-dominated qualifying session. "Big congratulations to Valtteri, he's been stellar all weekend and I've been struggling and fighting the vehicle", said the Briton.

"Lewis also managed to improve a lot during the qualifying and it was super-close".

Wolff has always been clear that his drivers are free to race as long as it is not at the cost of the team's overall result.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has said that Vettel will have priority in "50-50 situations" but has said the two will be allowed to race.

Sebastian Vettel was third-fastest for Mercedes' arch-rivals Ferrari for the race in Shanghai, the 1 000th grand prix in Formula One.

Controversially, the two Red Bull drivers failed to set a second attempt in the final session of qualifying after being backed up by the Mercedes, Ferraris and Renaults ahead of them on the track.

Ferrari arrived in China as favourites after looking dominant in Bahrain, a race they would have won but for a late engine problem that hit Charles Leclerc's auto while leading, and with plenty of straight line speed.

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"Ferrari still seem to be quicker than us on the straights, whereas we were better in most corners in FP2 (the second session)".

With the field of cars bunching up, Verstappen was unable to cross the line to start his final run before the clock ran down, which prompted a frustrated outburst over the radio from the 21-year-old Dutchman. "I have struggled. There is time left on the table, but I will try and get it back tomorrow".

"I was trying to follow the Ferrari in front of me and trying to overtake him, this time it caught me out and I'm not happy about that", he said.

"I think this is a very important discussion to have and we have had that discussion since Monza 2014, that was the race after Spa", he said.

It was not clear if the auto could be repaired in time for qualifying later on Saturday.

Earlier, Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon lost control and smashed at high speed towards the end of final practice, so did not take part in qualifying. The rookie will start from the pit lane on Sunday.

Albon, who had looked in with a good chance of making the top 10, said: "I am OK. Maybe some safety cars will help, but we'll see". It was a big one and silly one.

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