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Bottas snatches pole in F1 Chinese GP

14 Apr 2019, 00:19 ( 3 Months ago)

Xinhua Report by Michael Butterworth
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland reacts after the qualifying session at the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, China, on April 13, 2019. Photo Xinhua/Ding Ting.

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.023s to take pole position for the F1 Chinese Grand Prix, as Mercedes looked to have a clear edge on Ferrari for the first time this weekend.

   Having already beaten Hamilton at the season's opening race in Australia, Bottas once again bested his world champion teammate, who couldn't improve his fastest time on his final run.

   "It's been a good weekend," the Finn said afterwards. "I already felt really comfortable from the practice sessions. The car has been really good this weekend. My pole lap was ok, not completely how I wanted it, but good enough for pole."

   Despite losing out on pole position, Hamilton seemed much more content than he had been after Friday practice, when he had said that he "didn't know what the hell was wrong" with his car.

   "Congrats to Valtteri, he's been stellar all weekend," the Briton said. "I'm much happier now because the gap [to Bottas] was much bigger earlier in the weekend. Ferrari are quick on the straights but we've managed to pull some performance from the corners. It's a really positive day for us."

   Despite appearing to have a higher top-end speed than the Mercedes, Ferrari had to settle for third and fourth on the grid 0.3s behind the Silver Arrows, with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Charles Leclerc.

   "Right from Q1 Mercedes seemed in a better place," Vettel lamented afterwards. "I think there was not enough to beat them today. They are quick in the corners, but when we get close we have an advantage in a straight line."

   Fifth on the grid was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who complained that the traffic in the final minutes of the session meant he was unable to complete his last flying lap. Verstappen's teammate Pierre Gasly lines up alongside him in sixth place, his best qualifying position of the season so far.

   It was a better session for Renault, whose cars qualified in the top ten for the first time in 2019, with Daniel Ricciardo in seventh just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Rounding out the top ten were Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, neither of whom set a representative time in Q3 after also being impeded by other runners in the closing stages.

   Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat narrowly failed to make the top ten shootout, qualifying 0.022s behind Ricciardo in Q2. Racing Point's Sergio Perez finished 12th, just ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, who missed out on Q3 for the first time in 53 races. After a promising start to the season, McLaren will be disappointed with their drivers' 14th and 15th places, with Carlos Sainz ahead of Lando Norris.

   Towards the back of the field, Racing Point's Lance Stroll will start 16th, after failing to progress out of the first section of qualifying, ahead of the Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica.

   Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi lines up 19th, after he was confined to the pits throughout the session with engine trouble, and the Toro Rosso of Alexander Albon will start 20th and last following a big crash in morning practice that meant the Thai driver was unable to take part in qualifying.