Finland’s Valtteri Bottas will line up for Formula 1's 1000thgrand prix in pole position after he beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by the narrow margin of 0.023s. The pole is the seventh of Bottas’ career and the 59thfront-row lockout for Mercedes.
Behind the Silver Arrows, Ferrari annexed row two with Sebastian Vettel in third place, 0.017s ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Bottas was to the fore early in Q1, and the Finn claimed top spot thanks to a lap of 1:32.658. That left him almost half a second clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who ran wide exiting the final corner. Max Verstappen put in a lap 1:33.274 to take P3 ahead of Vettel and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. The top five would sit out the final runs.
Eliminated at the end of the segment were Racing Point’s Lance Stroll in P16 with the Canadian exiting ahead of the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica. Also out was Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi who failed to set a time in Q1.
Bottas held P1 through the final runs, but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who caught traffic on his first run and lay in 10thahead of the final laps, vaulted to P2 with a second effort drop Verstappen to fourth place.
Bottas once again stamped his authority on the session setting a benchmark of 1:31.728 in the first runs of Q2. Vettel got closest to him, though the German was half a second back ahead of Leclerc, Verstappen and Hamilton, who once again made a mistake on his lap.
Mercedes opted to run again at the end of the session with Bottas bolting on a set of soft tyres, but Hamilton opted instead for mediums and it was he who topped the session, the Briton posting a time of 1:31.637 to finish a tenth ahead of Bottas lap.
Bottas returned to the top of the order in the first runs of Q3, but only just. The Finn edged team-mate Hamilton by just 0.007 to take provisional pole, with Vettel third.
Verstappen put in a good lap of 1:32.089 to sit in fourth ahead of Leclerc, and the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.
There was disappointment for the Red Bulls in the final runs though. Held up through the final corners during their out laps, neither Max nor Pierre was able to get across the line in time to complete a final flying lap, a situation that infuriated the Dutchman.
The traffic problems allowed Leclerc to jump to P4 with his final run to sit alongside Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who narrowly squeezed past Verstappen at the end of the out laps and managed to get across the line in time to complete a final lap.
Leclerc’s move up the order handed Ferrari ownership of row two with Red Bull set to start from row three tomorrow, ahead of the Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg and the Haas cars of Magnussen and Grosjean.
At the top of the order Hamilton couldn’t find the pace to oust Bottas from P1 and thanks to a marginal improvement the Finn took his seventh career pole by 0.023s.
2019 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.547
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.570 0.023
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.848 0.301
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.865 0.318
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.089 0.542
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1:32.930 1.383
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:32.958 1.411
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:32.962 1.415
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas
10 Romain Grosjean Haas
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:33.236 1.689
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:33.299 1.752
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:33.419 1.872
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:33.523 1.976
15 Lando Norris McLaren 1:33.967 2.420
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:34.292 2.745
17 George Russell Williams 1:35.253 3.706
18 Robert Kubica Williams 1:35.281 3.734
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo
20 Alex Albon Toro Rosso