Valtteri Bottas on pole for Chinese GP after pipping Lewis Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas on pole for Chinese GP after pipping Lewis Hamilton”

Just three tenths of a second separated the Ferraris and the Mercedes. Maybe you can, but I don't think it should have happened.

Hamilton, a five-time victor in China, said: "I didn't give up and kept pushing right to the end".

"We made it to the top of the timesheets but it is always very hard to find a good balance through an entire lap on this track", said Bottas.

" I've been fighting the auto but I'm much happier".

Despite his crash, Albon still clocked the ninth-fastest time but his participation in the qualifying session later in the afternoon depends on whether his mechanics can rebuild his auto in time.

The crash came in the final seconds of practice with Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes clocking the fastest time - 1min32.830 seconds.

"They are bloody quick in the corners!" the German said when Brundle suggested the Ferrari's straightline speed could help them on Sunday.

Max Verstappen will start fifth after failing to get over the finish line in time with his intended final flying lap. Looking on the bright side, we had a good FP2 and our race pace looks strong so I'm optimistic about tomorrow's race. A year ago a win was within in his grasp only to be denied by a late safety auto, a clever Red Bull strategy call and an exemplary drive by Daniel Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel says the gap to Mercedes in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix was "too big" after Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton locked out the front row.

Vettel led the grid in the opening practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit, but Mercedes have dominated in China ever since.

The youngster's session ended early as he parked up in the garage with some 20 minutes to go so that Ferrari could carry out cooling checks. "We will check it but no big issues". And when the team told me we only have 10 seconds' margin to cross the line in time to make another attempt, I had to think of something.

Hamilton was second fastest in the morning but struggled in the afternoon. Obviously important if we can't beat them to be right behind them, buying us some options tomorrow, hopefully. "The auto has the pace in it to compete at the front, we just need to find the right set-up".

McLaren rookie Lando Norris, fresh from having scored his first Formula One points in Bahrain, was eighth for McLaren ahead of Ricciardo.

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