Valtteri Bottas has beaten his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by twenty-three thousandths of a second to take pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Mercedes had a clear advantage over Ferrari and Bottas had the advantage over the course of the weekend over his five times champion teammate, however, it was a close fight between himself and Hamilton. Bottas held the advantage through much of qualifying, although Hamilton did set the pace in Q2 thanks to having a second run on medium Pirellis.
Ferrari appeared to struggle with Sebastian Vettel three tenths off Bottas, while his teammate Charles Leclerc was fourth. The Monacan admitted that they were not quick enough to take the fight to the Mercedes duo, adding “they are bloody quick in the corners”.
Bottas said “It’s been a good weekend so far. Felt really comfortable today. Honestly struggled to get the perfect lap in Q3 but it was good enough. The lap was OK. Not completely how I want it. The car has been really good this weekend and Lewis improved a lot. It was super close.”
Hamilton added “I didn’t give up, I kept pushing. Valtteri has been stellar all weekend. I’ve been fighting the car but I’m much happier. It was eight tenths at one stage so to be as close as we are at the end is fantastic.”
Vettel added “Right from Q1 they seemed to start off from a better place. We had a good session. I think there was maybe a little bit more but not enough to beat these guys today. When we get close we have an advantage in a straight line, and maybe we can do something there.
Both Red Bull’s were off the pace and failed to set a time on their final runs in Q3 after the team sent both Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly out too late. The Dutchman being stuck in a queue of cars at the end of his out lap as Vettel was coming through on his timed lap.
That pushed him down to fifth ahead of teammate Pierre Gasly, who made it through to Q3 for the first time this season. But ultimately both Red Bull’s looked as if they were never going to challenge the top two team. Verstappen over eight tenths faster than Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly, who was also unable to complete a second lap.
Daniel Ricciardo went into the final session with one set off softs, which he used to go seventh four thousandths faster than teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Haas was left unable to respond, they also caught in the traffic behind the Red Bull’s, leaving Kevin Magnussen ninth and Romain Grosjean tenth.
Toro Rosso Daniil Kvyat starts eleventh, the Russian just missing out on Q3 by two-hundredths of a second. However, he showed strong race pace on Friday, and free tyre choice should come into the points tomorrow. Sergio Perez was a further six hundredths off.
The Mexican a tenth faster than the struggling Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn reporting a loss some engine power over the radio after not improving by enough to make the top ten. While teammate Antonio Giovinazzi did not take part in qualifying because of an engine problem.
McLaren had there worst qualifying of the season, Carlos Sainz fourteenth four tenths faster than Lando Norris. Sainz admitting he was disappointed not to be four places higher after what appeared to be a decent lap.
Lance Stroll starts sixteenth after missing out of Q2 by a tenth, he starts ahead of both the Williams’s. As expected, the Williams duo was well off the pace and were the slowest drivers to set a time.
Antonio Giovinazzi and Alex Albon both failing to qualify, the Alfa driver with a suspected power unit issue in his Alfa Romeo after just an in lap and an out lap. While Albon paid for a crash in FP3.
The British-Thai lost control of his car after going wide at the final corner crashing heavily into the wall badly damaging the car and critically damaging the chassis.
The team will build up the spare chassis with a fresh gearbox but it is not yet clear whether all the Honda engine components will be switched across from the damaged car.