Heading into this weekend, Ferrari had thought that they had rectified their problems. See, they were quick out of the gates in the preseason testing in Barcelona. But, in the season opener in Australia, that speed was gone. The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton dominated in leading practice, qualifying and finishing 1-2 in the race itself.
The next race though in Bahrain, they thought that they then had their problems addressed. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc went 1-2 through all three practice sessions and in all three rounds of qualifying as well. Unfortunately for both, new problems arised.
Vettel, made a costly mistake in trying to hold off Hamilton on track after his final pit stop while Leclerc’s engine went sour while leading with 10 laps remaining.
In the first practice session of the weekend, Vettel led the way in what looked like the Ferrari’s would be back. Since though, it’s been all Mercedes.
Bottas, was quickest in the final two practice sessions then earned his seventh career Formula One pole when he circled the 3.387-mile Shanghai International Circuit with a time of 1:31.547-seconds in his No. 77 Mercedes en route to the top starting spot. The Finnish driver was fastest in two of the three qualifying rounds too.
The round he wasn’t fastest, his teammate Hamilton was in Q2. The defending champion turned in a lap of 1:31.570-seconds in his No. 44 Mercedes in the money round to start alongside of Bottas in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix (2 a.m. ET/ESPN 2).
Hamilton, was second, fourth and fourth respectively in practice and is looking for his third straight top two finish to start the season. Same with Bottas who won the season opener in Melbourne.
Mercedes has won four out of the last five races in China and seven of the last nine overall.
The Ferrari’s will start in Row 2 with Vettel going 1:31.848-seconds in his No. 5 Ferrari and Leclerc being at 1:31.865-seconds in his No. 16 Ferrari.
The duo will be looking for their first win in China since 2013 and just their second overall since 2008.
The Red Bull’s will share Row 3 with Max Verstappen (1:32.089-seconds) rolling off fifth and Pierre Gasly (1:32.930-seconds) starting sixth respectively.
In fact, the top five rows are all shared by teammates which marks the second time in F1 history that this has happened. The other was in Singapore in 2011.
Chinese Grand Prix Starting Lineup
Row 1: Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton
Row 2: Sebastian Vettel, Charles LeClerc
Row 3: Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly
Row 4: Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg
Row 5: Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean
Row 6: Daniil Kvyat, Sergio Perez
Row 7: Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz Jr.
Row 8: Lando Norris R, Lance Stroll
Row 9: George Russell R, Robert Kubica
Row 10: Antonio Gilvinazzi R, Alexander Albon R