Bottas achieves first pole position in Formula 1’s 1000th race

Championship leader Valtteri Bottas scored his first Formula 1 pole position of the season in qualifying at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The Mercedes driver beat his team-mate Lewis Hamilton to P1 by just 23 thousandths of a second, with Sebastian Vettel three tenths down in the Ferrari.

Bottas held the advantage through much of the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying, although Hamilton did set the pace in Q2 thanks to having a second run on medium Pirellis.

Vettel beat his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc to fourth by 0.017 seconds, the Prancing Horse duo jumping ahead of Max Verstappen on their final runs.

This was thanks to Verstappen failing to cross the line to start his lap before the chequered flag after becoming stuck in a queue of cars, with Vettel passing him at the hairpin late in the lap to ensure that he was able to.

That left Verstappen fifth, 0.542 seconds off the pace and over eight tenths faster than Red Bull Racing team-mate Pierre Gasly, who was also unable to complete a second lap.

Daniel Ricciardo had only one fresh set of soft Pirelli for Q3, but used it to beat Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg to eighth by just 0.004 seconds.

Neither Haas driver set a time in Q3, with both also failing to start their laps at the end of the session due to traffic.

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat failed to improve on his first-run time in Q2 having been seventh early on, meaning he was shuffled down to P11 and fastest of those eliminated in the first segment of qualifying.

Sergio Perez was just 0.063 seconds further behind in the Racing Point, just over a tenth faster than the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Iceman reported he lost some engine power over the radio after not improving by enough to make the top ten. This was his first non-appearance in Q3 since the 2016 season…

McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were P15 and P16, separated by 0.444 seconds, with Sainz admitting he was disappointed not to be four positions higher after what appeared to be decent lap.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was the only driver with a fighting chance of escaping Q1 not to do so, ending up P16 after lapping 0.144 seconds slower than Norris – the third time this season he’s fallen in the first stage of qualifying.

Williams pairing George Russell and Robert Kubica were P17 and P18, a second down on Stroll and separated by 0.028 seconds.

Kubica complained of massive oversteer in the session, while Russell described his lap as “rubbish”.

Antonio Giovinazzi was unable to set a time after hitting problems on his first run suspected to be related to the engine.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon did not participate in qualifying thanks to monocoque damage sustained in his crash at the end of the final practice session.

Congratulations Valtteri Bottas in claiming pole position in the sport’s 1000th Grand Prix event. The new and confident Mercedes driver is looking strong heading into the race. It’s going to be a fascinating fight for championship honours.

Chinese Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m31.547s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m31.570s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m31.848s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m31.865s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m32.089s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m32.930s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m32.958s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m32.962s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari –
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m33.236s
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m33.299s
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m33.419s
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m33.523s
15 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m33.967s
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m34.292s
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m35.253s
18 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m35.281s
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari –
20 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda –

7 thoughts to “Bottas achieves first pole position in Formula 1’s 1000th race”

  1. Chinese Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    In a thrilling qualifying session in China, worthy of the 1000th World Championship race, Valtteri Bottas secured his first pole position since Russia 2018, edging his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.023s, with the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc around three tenths adrift.

    Having never started on the front row before in Shanghai, current world championship leader Bottas put in a confident performance in Q3 to lap the Shanghai International Circuit in 1m 31.547s, and give Mercedes the advantage heading into Sunday’s race.

    In fifth place was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, the Dutchman left unhappy after backed up traffic prevented him from making a final attempt. His team mate Pierre Gasly, making his first appearance of Q3 this year, was sixth, but a full 0.841s off Verstappen’s pace.

    It was a great qualifying for Renault, who locked out the fourth row of the grid in their own first Q3 appearance of 2019, Daniel Ricciardo pipping his team mate Nico Hulkenberg and ahead of the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who didn’t set a lap time in the final segment of the session.

    Q1 – Stroll out for seventh consecutive race as Giovinazzi fails to make it out on track

    With Alexander Albon not appearing in qualifying after his huge FP3 crash in the Toro Rosso, another absentee from Q1 was the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian’s mechanics working frantically on a power unit issue on his car until it became clear that there wouldn’t be enough time to send him out.

    He was joined in the drop zone by the two Williams of George Russell and Robert Kubica in 17th and 18th, while Lance Stroll failed to make it out of Q1 for the seventh consecutive race, as he finished P16 in the Racing Point.

    At the head of the field, meanwhile, Charles Leclerc was forced to go through two sets of new soft tyres after encountering heavy track on his first flying lap, ending the segment second to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who posted a 1m 32.658s.

    Knocked out:

    Q2 – Both McLarens out as Renault make first Q3 appearance of 2019

    Having shown promising pace in Bahrain, McLaren found themselves on the back foot for the race in China, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris ending up P14 and P15 respectively – the first time this year Norris has failed to make Q3. Also knocked out was a disappointed Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso, the Racing Point of Sergio Perez and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen – the Finn ending a 53-race run of Q3 appearances.

    That was good news for Renault, both drivers making it through to Q3 for the first time this year, along with the Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, while the top five runners of Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Lerclerc and Verstappen all set their fastest laps of the segment of the medium tyre, which they’ll now start the race on.

    Worryingly for Pierre Gasly, the Frenchman could only manage sixth on the soft tyre, half a second off his team mate on the mediums. He at least secured his own first Q3 appearance as a Red Bull driver.

    Knocked out:

    Q3 – Bottas takes pole while traffic leaves Verstappen fuming

    There’s been plenty of talk about ‘Bottas 2.0’ in 2019. And after his commanding win in Australia, we appeared to see the rebooted Finn back again in the final segment of qualifying in China. After leading the first round of quick laps in Q3 from team mate Hamilton, his second attempt saw him increase his advantage over the most successful qualifier in Formula 1 history to claim his first pole position since Sochi last year by a margin of just 0.023s.

    Ferrari looked to be mighty on the straights in both Bahrain and here in Shanghai, but appeared to be playing second fiddle to Mercedes in the downforce stakes in Shanghai, Vettel and Leclerc both improving in their own second runs in Q3 but neither managing to get within three-tenths of Bottas.

    READ MORE: Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying Facts and Stats

    Behind, Verstappen was left furious after backing off to give himself some space only to be passed by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, and left unable to improve his time. That put him fifth, and ruing a missed chance to fight for what he thought was a potential P3 on the grid.

    Happier was Daniel Ricciardo, who would have been chuffed both to have made his first Q3 appearance this year and to have outgunned team mate Nico Hulkenberg, who finished both FP2 and FP3 in fifth place.

    The Haas cars, meanwhile, were unable to set a flying lap after getting caught out in the Vettel/Verstappen traffic jam. That left them ninth and 10th – although given that the American squad had appeared to lack pace early on in the weekend, they might not be too disappointed.

    So it’s Valtteri Bottas with his first pole position of 2019. And after missing out on the win here 12 months ago, the Finn would dearly love to make it happen here this weekend, and stretch his lead at the head of the championship.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton “experimenting” in qualifying after handling issues. has the full story.

    Lewis Hamilton said he was “experimenting” throughout Chinese Grand Prix qualifying after “battling” his car more than his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate and poleman Valtteri Bottas.

    Hamilton trailed Bottas by 0.8s in Friday practice and on Saturday, but jumped ahead in Q2 before being edged by the championship-leading Finn by 0.023s when it counted.

    Five-time world champion Hamilton said the car “hasn’t improved” through qualifying because he needed to work out ways to get more out of it himself.

    “I was struggling with the car throughout yesterday and today going into Q2, but I made a couple of changes with some settings on the wheel and changes to the lines, to bridge the gap,” said Hamilton.

    “Honestly I’m quite proud of the job I’ve done considering how far I was earlier on in the session. Valtteri’s been quick all weekend. He deserves the pole.”

    Asked by to elaborate on the changes he made, Hamilton said: “Valtteri was particularly quick in the first sector so I was experimenting throughout the session.

    “I think I had the quickest sector in the end but it was a little bit too late. But still it’s all about making improvements. It wasn’t to do with tyre temperature it was just to do with balance and getting the flow, utilising the grip in the right areas.

    “As I said I’ve been struggling with the car, just battling the thing. It’s obviously a great car but the first few races are always quite tricky. It shifts later on in the season and you get a better understanding.”

    Hamilton said Bottas has been “stellar” throughout the Shanghai event after the Australian GP winner topped Friday practice, Saturday practice and qualifying.

    However, Bottas said he was fortunate to be on pole after struggling to find the ideal lap in Q3.

    “The lap was OK, not completely how I want it, but luckily it was good enough for pole,” said Bottas. “The car has been really good this weekend. Lewis also managed to improve a lot during the qualifying and it was super close.”

    Mercedes had a three-tenth advantage over Ferrari after being second best on pace in Bahrain despite sneaking a one-two finish thanks to its rival’s problems.

    Bottas said he was braced for a close race in China as both Ferrari and Red Bull looked in the mix on long-run pace in Friday practice.

    “It’s been pretty close from the top three teams,” said Bottas. “There are many question marks but today’s encouraging so we will go for it.”

  3. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel admitted that the performance gap to Mercedes is “too big” in China following qualifying. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says his deficit to the Mercedes Formula 1 cars was “too big” in Chinese Grand Prix qualifying, and suggests Ferrari is still unable to replicate its pre-season testing form.

    After Ferrari had the upper hand on pure pace in Bahrain, Vettel led the way in the opening practice session at the Shanghai circuit – but Mercedes has had the upper hand since.

    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 said Mercedes “seemed to start off from a better place” in qualifying, but hoped to use Ferrari’s superior straightline speed to give the Silver Arrows a challenge on Sunday, despite them being “bloody quick in the corners”.

    “For us when we get close we have an advantage in a straight line so maybe we can do something there but the race is long. It should be a good day tomorrow.”

    Nevertheless, Vettel conceded that Ferrari was still searching for the kind of form that allowed it to initially emerge as the pre-season favourite following two weeks of testing in Barcelona.

    “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.

    “I think we’re getting more and more there, understanding some things related to different tracks. But as I said, the car is strong, so it’s up to us to extract the performance.”

  4. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was not impressed by his fellow drivers during the top ten shootout and made a sweary rant at rivals over Q3 tactics. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen accused his rival drivers of behaving like “wankers”, launching a furious radio outburst when he failed to make it across the line to start his final flying lap in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

    With a host of drivers having left it until the dying moments of the session to begin their Q3 runs, Verstappen missed out on getting across the line by less than two seconds after a number of drivers overtook him before the final corner and backed him up.

    Sebastian Vettel passed him around the outside of the hairpin, before the Renault duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo also shot past him on the blast to the final left-hander.

    With the time situation critical, Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase urged him to speed up, but it was too late – leaving the Dutch driver angry about what had happened.

    This is how their radio conversation played out.

    LAMBIASE: Mate, you need to go now.

    VERSTAPPEN [after the chequered flag came out]: Ah mate, f*****g hell. I’m finished right?

    ENGINEER: We are finished.

    VERSTAPPEN: They are such wankers honestly. Everybody just lining up and they are just f*****g it up. You’re just trying to be nice but everybody’s just f*****g it up.

    Speaking to Dutch television channel Ziggo Sport afterwards, a still-agitated Verstappen claimed that the other drivers had broken a code of conduct that they stay in order on their out-laps.

    “We were just staying neatly behind each other, but at a certain point Vettel passed me and the two Renaults as well,” he said.

    “So they f****d up my entire build up, while there is an unwritten rule that you just follow each other.

    “But whatever. From now on in qualifying I’m going to f**k them up as well.”

    Vettel said that he had no choice but to overtake other cars if he was going to make it across the line for his final Q3 lap.

    “We all left for the same spot and, if you are at the end of the train as I was, it was quite difficult,” said the German. “When the team told me we only had 10 seconds margin to cross the line in time to make another attempt, I had to think of something.

    “I don’t know if others were not told. If everyone would have sped up the way I did then we would have all made it, but I obviously prioritised at that point to make the lap. It felt like the others were not aware.”

    Verstappen was not the only driver to miss out, with teammate Pierre Gasly finding himself trapped behind the Dutchman coming out of the final corner.

    Further back, Haas appeared to miscalculate the amount of time that they had in hand to get across the line – with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen also failing to get a final lap in.

    With pitwall radio messages indicating both drivers had more time in hand than they actually did, the pair were unimpressed at failing to get a lap in.

    Grosjean said over the team radio: “You must be kidding me…” while Magnussen let rip with a string of expletives.

  5. Max Verstappen says being surprised by late overtakes by his Formula 1 rivals prompted him to block Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly at the end of Chinese Grand Prix qualifying.

    Verstappen was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and both Renault drivers between the last two corners of the Shanghai circuit as a queue of cars prepared for their final flying laps in the top-10 shoot-out.

    This prevented him from starting a lap in time before the session ended and prompted him to block Gasly as his new teammate tried to overtake him into the final corner as well.

    Asked by to explain what happened, Verstappen said: “We were too late anyway [to get across the line] and I already had three cars who overtook me. I was just getting my spot [in the queue].

    “Pierre also got the hurry-up from his engineer so I think it’s quite normal.”

    Asked if he did not want to let him past after being unexpectedly overtaken by the others, Verstappen said: “Looked like it, didn’t it? But we were too late anyway.”

    Both Red Bulls and both Haas drivers failed to across the line in time at the end of the session.

    Asked by if he was surprised by Verstappen’s move to left as Gasly looked to the inside, Gasly said: “Well, not so much, because I think at that time we were five cars in about 30 metres, so I knew there was not enough space for everybody.

    “You just try to get the maximum out of it. I was just trying to find a gap, and in the end we both didn’t make it. It was not ideal but it wouldn’t have changed the position in qualifying, so no big deal.”

    In the aftermath, an angry Verstappen had accused his fellow drivers of behaving like “wankers” and breaking the “gentleman’s agreement” not to interfere with one another’s preparations at the end of a lap.

    Speaking slightly later, he admitted was not sure himself how long was left but did not want to be the “asshole” overtaking someone.

    Verstappen said he was only hurried up by his team “when they got past” and said that, plus the actions of his rivals, prompted the “mess”.

    “I thought it was 15 seconds left, or 20, I was just following the car ahead,” he said. “Then Seb went in between. So I wanted to back out of that. Then the Renaults went in front, I was like ‘where do I go now?’.

    “I could start my lap behind them but then your lap is ruined anyway. You need at least four or five seconds otherwise you get disturbed by the air.”

    He added: “Next time it’s just a little more clear that I know it’s 10/15 seconds left and I know to go as well.

    “I think everybody just went a bit too late. If I’d gone, the cars behind me wouldn’t have made it. I guess everyone was just waiting too long.”


  6. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen commented that Sebastian Vettel “did the right thing” by passing Max Verstappen in the final moments of Q3. has the details.

    Kevin Magnussen believes Sebastian Vettel and the Renault drivers “did the right thing” in passing Max Verstappen in the dying seconds of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

    Red Bull’s Verstappen was left furious after failing to cross the start/finish line in time to complete his final flying lap in Q3 after being overtaken by the Ferrari driver, as well as Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

    The Dutchman argued drivers have an unwritten rule to not overtake each other during the warm-up lap, and claimed his rivals had “f****d up my entire build-up”.

    Magnussen was another driver to fail to make it in time to start his final flyer, and said afterwards he felt Vettel and the Renaults were right to speed up.

    “It was pretty messy so at the end of the lap everyone was trying to, I guess, get started, but also have somebody in front,” Magnussen said. “So it ended up being too much and costs a few guys the lap.

    “Everyone also went out at exactly the same time out of the pits. We were following each other and towards the end of the lap you didn’t know whether to try and overtake people, which in that case they are going to defend and it was messy.”

    When asked by about Verstappen’s complaints regarding Vettel and the Renault duo, Magnussen said: “In the end, if they got the lap, then they did the right thing.”

    The Dane, who qualified ninth ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean, said he decided against trying to overtake his rivals because he felt it would have been counterproductive.

    “I didn’t want to be an asshole,” Magnussen said jokingly. “You know what I mean. We are racing. I didn’t attack anyone not because I’m a gentleman, but because I thought my chances would be pretty poor of actually getting past people because people don’t want you to get past and it’s just messy.

    “I don’t want to screw anyone. I don’t see any point in that. I try to do my own thing and try to do a good qualifying for myself and I would never try to screw anyone just for the hell of it.”

    Ricciardo suggested that had he not passed Verstappen, he would not have made it before time had run out.

    “It was close actually,” said Ricciardo. “I think I passed the line with maybe a second or less. I saw the red light as I was passing it, so it was close.

    “But I don’t know if the others weren’t getting the information but my engineer was saying ‘it’s gonna be tight, you need to go’.

    “I just don’t think the others were getting the same information because they were taking their time, a few of them.”

    Renault teammate Hulkenberg said he could see traffic would be bad when leaving the pits and was just making sure he could get his lap in.

    “Actually I wasn’t aware it was that tight, to be honest. But I could see it sort of leaving the pitlane, I could tell it was going to bunch up at the end.

    “I had the Mercedes in front of me, Ferrari’s were pushing already behind, overtaking me early on, other cars were pushing up behind, so I could tell it is going to happen. And I made sure towards the end of the lap that I get ahead and not run into trouble.”

  7. After an incredible qualifying performance in the previous event at Bahrain, Charles Leclerc was “annoyed with myself” after Chinese Grand Prix qualifying. provides the news story.

    Ferrari Formula 1 driver 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”.

    Fresh off his stellar performance in Bahrain, Leclerc trailed Vettel in all three practice sessions before qualifying fourth on the grid, 0.017s back from his German teammate.

    The Ferrari newcomer was audibly disheartened after crossing the start-finish line on his decisive lap in Q3, raising his voice on the team radio and repeatedly calling himself “f***ing 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.”

    He added: “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 understeer.

    “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.

    “I struggled to find the car set-up right, I struggled with the confidence with the car and I struggled with the driving, so it was not easy.

    “Then coming in qualy we did some changes, I think I changed quite a lot the driving and was a lot better.

    “Not enough to be in front of the Mercedes or at their level but at least we got closer and myself I think there was a bit more potential, so [about] this I’m disappointed, but overall it’s a positive day.”

    “I think Valtteri [Bottas] was quick all weekend. Lewis [Hamilton] I felt was struggling a little bit with the car before qualifying.

    “So, no, it’s not such a surprise, I think it was more a surprise to see Lewis struggling in free practice than seeing them both quick in qualy, we expected that.”
    Leclerc’s post-qualifying radio

    Leclerc: F**k, I did mistakes. Come on, Charles! F**k. S**t.

    Ferrari: Positions, Bottas P1, Hamilton P2, Sebastian P3 and yourself P4. Sebastian laptime [1m]31.84[s], and yourself – [1m]31.86[s].

    Leclerc: Come on! F**k. F***ing stupid. F***ing stupid. What’s the pole lap?

    Ferrari: Pole lap, [1m]31.54[s]. 31.54. Stay negative [below the maximum in-lap time], stay negative.

    Ferrari: It was a good recovery, ok? From FP3 and all the issues-

    Leclerc: Yeah, but not good enough. Not good enough. Not good enough from me, on my side. Not speaking about the car, car was good. I should’ve done better, that’s it.

    Ferrari: Tomorrow it’s the race.

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