It shouldn’t be too shocking to see the Mercedes duo lock out the front row for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix (2 a.m. ET/ESPN 2). It’s only the 59th time that they’ve done that and second of the 2019 F1 season.
Valtteri Bottas was quickest in two of the three practice sessions around the Shanghai International Circuit as well as two of the three rounds in knockout qualifying. His teammate Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the second of three rounds to give Mercedes the quickest driver in the final five sessions of the weekend.
Plus, Mercedes has won four of the last five races in China and seven of the last nine overall. Mix that with being 2-for-2 this season and it’s clear whom the favorites are.
Their biggest challengers will likely be from the Ferrari camp but they keep shooting themselves in the foot. They are playing second fiddle to Mercedes this season and don’t have the speed to keep up. They have just one Chinese Grand Prix victory since 2008.
If this race goes on pure speed, no one is touching the Mercedes duo.
Here’s the top five predictions.
77 Bottas – He’s driving the best of his career. He won in Melbourne and finished runner-up two weeks ago in Bahrain. With being quickest in four of the six sessions this weekend and the pole sitter winning four of the last five years in China, he’s the top pick. Plus, Bottas finished runner-up in 2018.
44 Hamilton – He’s won three of the last five years in China but did finish outside of the podium in two of the last three years. I do think Hamilton finishes on the podium on Sunday but he doesn’t have anything for Bottas. Hamilton, was only second, fourth and fourth in practice and starts second.
5 Vettel – He earns his first podium of the season in a chalk podium. Vettel, has three podium finishes in his last four Chinese Grand Prix starts and was in the top two in practice all weekend.
33 Verstappen – He earned his third straight top five in China and second consecutive top five finish on the season.
3 Ricciardo – He charges up to a top five in his first time of RAF in 2019. Ricciardo, has six straight top 10 finishes in China including three of which consecutively being in the top five. He was sixth, ninth and 13th respectively in practice this weekend and starts seventh.