Formula 1

F1: Mercedes lock out the front row in China

Credit: Mercedes-Benz archive

Mercedes locked out the front row as Valtteri Bottas took pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes have seem a cut above the rest all weekend and qualifying was no different. Bottas pipped Hamilton by 0.023s but they were 3 tenths clear of Sebastian Vettel in third.

It would appear that the Silver Arrows are ahead on pure pace as both Ferrari drivers qualified within 0.017s of each other with Leclerc completing an all-Ferrari second row.

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Max Verstappen will line up fifth for tomorrow’s race while Pierre Gasly had an improved showing with sixth place although he was still eight tenths slower than his teammate.

Verstappen had a difficult second lap in Q3, getting stuck in traffic. Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg then overtook the Dutchman compromising the start to his lap. This also caused Verstappen to hinder Gasly’s last flying lap.

Renault had a strong qualifying session with Daniel Ricciardo ending up seventh fastest. The Australian will be happy to be ahead of his teammate, Hulkenberg, who will start eighth as he gets to grips with his new car.

Both Haas cars made it into Q3 but both drivers failed to set a lap. As a result Magnussen will start ninth with Grosjean tenth.

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Daniil Kvyat had been seventh in Q2 but he failed to improve on his second run. He will start in 11th tomorrow while Sergio Perez was just behind him in 12th.

Kimi Raikkonen’s record run of Q3 appearances finally came to an end and he will start 13th in what has been a difficult weekend for Alfa Romeo.

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris also had difficult sessions after a strong first two weekends. Sainz appeared disappointed with being so far down while Norris appeared to be over-driving at times. They will start 14th and 15th tomorrow.

Lance Stroll failed to get out of Q3 for the third time this season. He lapped 0.144s slower than Norris and will start 16th.

Williams appear to be closer to the rest of the field this weekend but are still the slowest of the runners. Russell just edged out Kubica once again in what is a very close intra-team battle.

Giovinazzi failed to compete in qualifying with power unit issues in his Alfa Romeo. It was the same situation for Albon who had a big crash in Practice. Due to the extent of the damage, Toro Rosso were unable to get the car ready in time for qualifying.

It is likely Albon will need a new chassis for tomorrow and if so, he will start from the pitlane.

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