Mercedes' Bottas, Hamilton qualify 1-2 for Chinese GP

Mercedes' Bottas, Hamilton qualify 1-2 for Chinese GP

Mercedes' Bottas, Hamilton qualify 1-2 for Chinese GP

"Sorry guys", he said over the team radio.

But for now, he is backing the heavily criticised Sebastian Vettel, who in Bahrain struggled to shine alongside newcomer Charles Leclerc.

"I felt I could go faster (than Leclerc) but it was a bit hard for me to find a rhythm and locked up, losing the advantage I gained".

"I think after the first stint, the second and third stint were very similar".

Reigning champion Hamilton got the jump on pole-sitter Bottas, who beat Sebastian Vettel to second, into turn one and never looked in danger of missing out on a second straight triumph in F1's 1000th race. However, Red Bull took advantage of a significant gap back to seventh place and pitted Gasly for a new set of softs on the third last lap, allowing him to clock the fastest lap of the race on his final trip around the Shanghai International Circuit and with it a bonus world championship point. It was also the five-time and defending champion's 75th career victory, which moved him into the lead in the overall standings after three races.

The next race is the Azerbaijan GP on April 28 in Baku.

The rookie produced a brilliant race, though, climbing up to 10th position to finish in the points for the second race in succession. The start was where I could make the difference and after that it is history.

Hamilton and Bottas have won the first two races this season and, with Vettel and Leclerc, will be the favourites on Sunday in what Formula One is billing as its 1,000th race. "It's a shame for him but at that stage of the race Mercedes were slightly faster and we simply tried to give Sebastian a go and see if he could keep the pace of Mercedes", he explained.

Binotto went on: "I think that if Charles is upset, then he is right to be upset, and we should accept it".

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He had won thing to do - take the lead - and he did it in the first lap.

The Thai driver, who escaped unhurt, lost control at the exit of the final corner and slammed into the barriers with the mangled auto coming to rest across the start-finish straight in a shower of carbon fibre debris.

"It has been so close between us all and I really have no idea how the next race is going to turn out".

Vettel's teammate Charles Leclerc, on pole in Bahrain but denied victory there after a late loss of power while leading, finished fifth behind Verstappen, who briefly went wheel-to-wheel with Vettel for the final podium spot.

Up front, Leclerc was controversially told to let the only marginally quicker Vettel pass, which happened in lap 11. Vettel was unable to pull away but was then on the more advantageous race strategy.

For the first time, Mattia Binotto says Ferrari could "change" its number 1 driver in 2019.

Ferrari has had more flat-out speed than Mercedes in the early season, but China seems to have leveled the playing field.

And when asked about the team orders afterwards, Vettel was annoyed with the way he felt some journalists may construe the situation.

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