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Notebook – Chinese Qualifying

Valtteri Bottas took pole by twenty-three thousandths of a second to out-qualify 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.

 

Pole lap – V. Bottas 01:31.547

Valtteri Bottas runs through the final corner coming through from the outside cuts across swiftly to the apex without scrubbing off much speed lining the car up nicely on the inside of the circuit. He then pulls away to cross the track and nears the outside as he crosses pole, begins to turn in to the snail as he reaches 100m board. Slows right down as he crosses to the long apex, running the car out wide, then tucks into the apex. Exits through the middle of T4 opening the car up and is down .05 in the first sector.

He breaks into the hairpin coming from the outside Bottas turns in and hits the apex, running straight across to the outside before easing his way across to inside and back through T7. Sweeping his way beautifully through the esses and into T8 says at low speed approaching T9 runs across the track and through T10. Opening up the car on the short straight to T11 and is eight tenths up in S2.

He slows right down as he comes in from the outside into T11 hits apex on entry and exit, where he opens up the car. He pulls onto the 1km straight lined up on the outside, breaking from about 130m from the hairpin. Slows right down as he round the hairpin and runs the car to the outside using all the track. He then runs to the inside braking at the 50m board crosses across the final corner and runs along the inside crossing the line with 1:31.547

 

Mercedes surprised by qualifying

Mercedes have admitted that they were not expecting that they would be so far ahead of Ferrari in qualifying. Valtteri Bottas and team-mate Lewis Hamilton secured an impressive one-two in Shanghai and finished three tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

Asked by Sky Sports, if he was surprised by the size of the gap, Bottas told Sky F1: “Yes. This weekend we’ve been super strong on the corners. Although we are losing time on the straights, we’ve been gaining more [elsewhere]. We did have some improvements this weekend and they have definitely been working. So far we have been delivering on a level that we need to.”

His teammate Lewis Hamilton who was two hundredths off Bottas, added “I thought it was going to be a bit closer than it was. I didn’t know where we were going to be this weekend in terms of relative pace compared to [Ferrari and Red Bull] but this is a great result and a true showing of strength.”

However Mercedes are still expecting that Ferrari will be strong in the race, after they secured a one-two themselves last year.

 

Leclerc “annoyed with myself”

Charles Leclerc says he was left “annoyed with myself” after Chinese Grand Prix qualifying, despite closing the gap to teammate Sebastian Vettel after a “messy weekend”.

The Monacan struggled to match his performance from Bahrain and has been behind Vettel in every session this weekend and has qualified in fourth for the race. He sounds annoyed about his final run in Q3 and labelled himself “F****** stupid.”

Speaking after the session, Leclerc said: “I’m annoyed today, with myself. I did a mistake in the last lap and I shouldn’t have done that. I am [disappointed] because I think the potential to be in top three was definitely there today.”

“I did some mistakes in my fast lap in Turn 12/13, I went pretty wide, took a lot of understeers. So yeah, overall there was potential to do better but it’s life, it’s like this.”

However, Leclerc stressed that he has reason to be satisfied with the qualifying result “because FP1, FP2, FP3 I was quite lost, struggling quite a bit, actually a lot. To be honest, it has been quite a messy weekend from my side from the beginning of the weekend,” he explained.

He says the changes to the set up going into qualifying changed the driveability and made it a lot better.

 

Ferrari’s defect to Mercedes was “too big” – Vettel

Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari’s defect to Mercedes was “too big” in qualifying, and suggests Ferrari is still unable to replicate its pre-season testing form.

Vettel had set the pace in FP1 on Friday but has appeared to have slipped behind Mercedes and was three tenths behind Bottas. Vettel ended up qualifying third behind an all-Mercedes front row, trailing pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas by 0.301s.

Asked about the gap after qualifying, Vettel said: “It’s too big. We’d like it to be the other way round, obviously, but I think we had a decent session. It’s important if we can’t beat them to be right behind them, so we have some options tomorrow hopefully.”

“On our side, I think we were able to improve the car from where we were yesterday so I’m reasonably happy with that, but not entirely happy. I think there was a little bit more. It was a bit tricky today to put the laps together.”

Vettel admitted that Ferrari was still looking for the form that allowed it to initially emerge as the pre-season favourite following two weeks of testing in Barcelona.

He said “We have a strong platform to work from. We started very well in Barcelona – that was really good, really strong. Since then I think we’ve struggled a little bit to repeat that. The past two races we’ve little issues here and there, so you’re not happy and you try to drive around the problems, try to set up the car differently.

 

Verstappen accuses rivals of breaking ‘Gentleman’s agreement’

Max Verstappen has accused his rivals of breaking a ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ after being caught in traffic as he went to start his final lap in the closing moments of Q3.

The Red Bull driver had gone a provisionally fourth following his first run, but at times fell in the closing moments he was pushed to fifth and left unable to respond. The traffic meant that he was unable to make it to the start line before the clock ticked down to zero, meaning he missed out on a final qualifying lap.

His response on team radio featured many expletives, “They are such [bleep], honestly. Everyone is just lining up and they are f—— it up. I’m just trying to be nice, but everyone is f—— it up.”

Speaking to the media after the session, Verstappen insisted there’s an unwritten rule amongst drivers when preparing for a qualifying lap.

He said, “I was just staying behind the Ferrari [of Sebastian Vettel] because with two corners to go, it’s basically like a kind of a gentleman’s agreement that you stay behind. This time it caught me out. I’m not happy about it, but it will swing around and it will come back onto others. Now we just have to do some more overtaking.”

“I think everybody just went a bit too late. Even if I would have gone, the cars behind me wouldn’t have made it. I could start my lap behind them, but then your lap is ruined. You need at least four, five seconds because you get disturbed by the dirty air.”

What made it worst for Verstappen, was that Charles Leclerc did not encounter the same traffic and was able to improve. The Dutchman is confident he could have challenged the Ferraris for a second-row start.

“It’s really annoying because we could have fought for third today,” Verstappen said.

Verstappen wasn’t the only driver to miss out on a final run in Q3. Teammate Pierre Gasly also failed to cross the line in time, as did Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

 

Top of the Tweets

Valtteri Bottas “Pole position for the 1000th F1 GP tomorrow 🇨🇳 Great job by the team to lock the front row! Will be a good battle tomorrow and I look forward to it 🏁 #VB77 #F1 #Race1000 #ChineseGP @MercedesAMGF1”

Lewis Hamilton “I’m sure there will be a few opportunities tomorrow and I will try to put myself in the best position to be able to fight.”

Alfa Romeo Kimi Raikkonen “I would say that we had a few pretty good runs in qualifying but that’s how it goes sometimes. We will find out tomorrow what we can achieve in the race”

Romain Grosjean “We did well, and I think we recovered very well from yesterday, so I was happy with that. I think the car looked really good today, much better than yesterday, so I’m very happy with that.”

Daniil Kvyat “We had a strong Qualifying today, it’s just a shame to miss out on Q3 by such a small gap. The car feels good and I’m going to push hard for points tomorrow! #chinesegp”

George Russell “Didn’t maximise the lap but we’re getting closer! Starting P17… let’s make the most of it 💪 #F1 #ChineseGP 🇨🇳 @WilliamsRacing”

 

Grand Prixview

Mercedes are the team to beat once again they have I feel the bigger advantage in a straight line, although you cannot count Ferrari out of this race. Ferrari really needs to get a result soon, and I believe Charles Leclerc can be the man to lead the team following what we saw in Bahrain. It’s hard to say going into the race.

Pirelli is predicting a one-stop, start on red soft for 18 laps, then white hard to the end. The second-quickest approach is also a one-stopper, but this time starting on the yellow medium tyre for 19 laps before going on to the hard. Finally, there’s a two-stopper – but this is clearly slower.

But you have to say that the midfield scrap could be another close fight as the Renault’s, Haas’s, Toro Rosso’s were covered by less than a second. We have seen brilliant racing in that group in the first

 

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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