Valtteri Bottas claims pole in China

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS  Thomas Peter

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS Thomas Peter

Kimi Raikkonen, the former Ferrari driver and 2007 world champion, failed to make the final phase of qualifying for the first time since 2016 and will start 13th for Alfa Romeo ahead of McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

Hamilton struggled throughout practice at Shanghai and trailed team-mate Valtteri Bottas by eight-tenths of a second during Saturday morning's session.

The crash for the Formula One rookie driver came in the final minutes of practice with Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes clocking the fastest time - 1 minute, 32.830 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel has claimed Mercedes have "too big" of a gap to his Ferrari team following the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying. Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished fifth.

He has every right to be expectant of extending his championship lead, now one point over Hamilton, on Sunday.

He was urged to hurry up by his engineer, but it was too late.

Hamilton added that he was "proud" of his improvements but conceded that team-mate Bottas was fully deserving of pole position. "As a result of the accident, we are changing the PU and sending the one that was in the vehicle at the time of the crash back to Sakura for a full check".

Although he will have to start from the pit lane, Albon is hopeful of being able to recover through the field after Toro Rosso showed impressive race performance on Friday afternoon.

Albon lost control at the final corner, smashing his auto into the wall in front of the main grandstand Bit disappointing: Hamilton has qualified on pole position six times in China.

"Looking on the bright side, we had a good FP2 and our race pace looks strong so I'm optimistic about tomorrow's race". The weekend so far has been very good. I have to say, in Q3 both of the laps I felt there was something I could do better - I knew exactly where I could still improve, I just didn't get it right on the soft tyres.

"The vehicle has been really good this weekend, and Lewis also improved a lot in qualifying, it was super close", said the Finn Bottas.

"I had a pretty big crash in FP3 but I'm OK, I'm just more disappointed I made a mistake", Albon later said of the incident.

"I was trying to follow the Ferrari in front of me and trying to overtake him, this time it caught me out and I'm not happy about that", he said.

Bottas looked strong throughout the weekend and in qualifying, placing a 1:31.547 to go fastest overall. "The Ferraris squeezed it all out and were very fast again on the straights, but we were quicker in the corners and that was ultimately how we stayed ahead today", said Wolff. I think there was a little bit more.

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