Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Senastian Vettel, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Bottas denies Hamilton pole for 1,000th championship round

2019 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas beat team mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix by just two-hundredths of a second. The Ferraris will start behind them.


The first driver was eliminated before qualifying even began. Alexander Albon crashed his Toro Rosso at the end of final practice and the team were unable to complete repairs to his car in time, ruling him out of Q1.

He was joined by the luckless Antonio Giovinazzi, who suffered further technical problems in his Alfa Romeo. he also failed to set a time during first practice yesterday. The Alfa Romeo crew worked hard to get him out but had to concede defeat as the clock ticked down at the end of the session.

That meant the Williams drivers were handed the opportunity to start higher than the back row of the grid. The pair had been closer to the pace in final practice, but both cars were again around a second off the next-slowest qualifier. Robert Kubica was again that slower of the pair, though only fractionally, after complaining of oversteer on his first run.

Lance Stroll’s last effort wasn’t quite enough to lift him out of the bottom five. Lando Norris claimed the final place in Q2 by 0.15 seconds.

Bottas was comfortably the quickest driver in Q1 with almost half a second in hand over his team mate. However Charles Leclerc was unhappy after he caught traffic at the end of his first run and had to go out again, using another set of tyres.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’34.292
17George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’35.253
18Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’35.281
19Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
20Alexander AlbonToro Rosso-Honda

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The Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, plus Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, opted to start Q2 on the medium compound tyres, in the hope of qualifying on them and gaining a strategic advantage. They duly claimed the top five times, led by Bottas.

Pierre Gasly, the only Red Bull driver running softs, was initially unable to beat his team mate’s time on the harder tyres, ending up half a second off him. He opted against running again, as did Leclerc who had used an extra set of tyres in Q1.

The other front-runner did make second runs but either did so on soft tyres and backed off, so they wouldn’t have to start on them, or, as in the case of Hamilton, ran on mediums again. He improved his time and headed the session by just under a tenth of a second.

Kimi Raikkonen reported a loss of power on the back straight on his final run, and missed the cut for Q3 for the first time since 2016 by two-tenths of a second. Daniil Kvyat was also frustrated his “clean” lap failed to get him into the final 10 by just two-hundredths.

Neither McLaren driver looked like making it into Q3, however, and there was a substantial gap between the two drivers.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’33.236
12Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’33.299
13Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’33.419
14Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’33.523
15Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’33.967

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Bottas started his first lap of Q3 strongly, chipping tenths of a second out of his team mate. But Hamilton took almost all of that advantage back in the final sector, and at the line Bottas was ahead by just seven-thousandths of a second.

As the Mercedes stretched their legs, the Ferraris couldn’t keep pace. Vettel was four-tenths adrift, and Verstappen split the two red cars with his first run.

Hamilton was asking “where am I down in the middle sector?” as he returned to the track for his final lap. In the first sector he clawed back time to Bottas, but through the middle of the lap Hamilton was down again. As he crossed the line he was unable to improve on his time, and Bottas trimmed 16 thousandths of a second off his time for good measure to secure pole position.

Both Ferrari drivers found time on their final runs. Leclerc briefly jumped up to third before Vettel claimed it back from him.

However it all went wrong for Red Bull. A frustrated Max Verstappen couldn’t find space to start his lap, got in the way of his team mate, and both crossed the line too late to start their final runs. The pair ended up fifth and sixth.

Renault and Haas completed a symmetrical top 10, the black-and-gold cars not setting a time in the final session.

Top ten in Q3

1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’31.547
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’31.570
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’31.848
4Charles LeclercFerrari1’31.865
5Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’32.089
6Pierre GaslyRed Bull-Honda1’32.930
7Daniel RicciardoRenault1’32.958
8Nico HulkenbergRenault1’32.962
9Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari
10Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari

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2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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57 comments on “Bottas denies Hamilton pole for 1,000th championship round”

  1. The first time this season so far that the 2018 pole lap of any given circuit didn’t get beaten by anyone.

  2. Good to see Bottas ver 2.2 fixed a few of the bugs of ver 2.1. He soaked up the pressure from Lewis really well and really put in a stellar Q3 performance. It’s crazy how close it was between teammates.. only 2 hundredths of a second between Valterri and Lewis.. only one hundredth between Sebastian and Charles… only 4 thousandths between Daniel and Nico.

    Max and Gasly though… man.. I expected Gasly to get smashed to bits this season anyways.. but this is ridiculous.

    1. I heard rumours that the black hole picture that was revealed during the week was shot in the gap between Max and Pierre

      1. Great one!

      2. Mega!!! :-D

      3. hilarious ;))

  3. I know season is still young and Gasly can probably improve, but that’s a massive margin to your team mate. He won’t be in that RB at the end of the season if he can’t turn things around rather quickly.

    1. If this is a representation of his true pace (which I don’t think it is). Imagine Hartley…

      1. @johnmilk Never thought Hartley is on F1-level, but yeah, it’s still slightly surprising. Surely makes WEC look bad when a top gun from that series gets beaten by a driver who is now beaten massively by F1 top gun.

        1. No it doesn’t. Gasly drove well last year, but not good so far in New team. Its a really dumb comparison you are making, look at alonso in WEC, only as quick as his teammates.

    2. Regardless of what happens, somebody has to be in that RB by the end of the season, and it doesn’t looks like there are any other candidates right now. That’s Red Bull’s big problem…

      1. they could poach Prost from Renault

      2. @alonshow Who knows, but maybe RB could try to lure Ocon out of Mercedes’ academy? I mean if Bottas continues like this there won’t be a top seat for Ocon, so a move to RB could make sense for him.

        Or since they have the habit of re-hiring old rejects they could ask Vergne to return. He is doing pretty well in Formula E. Or just switch Kvyat’s and Gasly’s places around. Think they have a lot of options.

        1. Ocon doesn’t have many friends at RBR.

  4. I hope that Bottas can maintain this form over the rest of 2019. If we can have four drivers from two teams who are in with a chance of the world championship similar to 2007, this would make this season a classic.

    1. @mashiat

      I agree, this season that qualities of going down the epic 2007 or even 2012 route.

      Whether Bottas can maintain this level of form though is really questionable. He started off 2017 strong, then fizzled towards the end of the season. He started 2018 strong as well (although the results didn’t go his way) and fizzled by the midpoint of the season. He’s started 2019 stronger than ever .. but I don’t know if he can really maintain this level of form. I hope he does.. but it seems unlikely.

      1. @todfod

        But the difference is this time Bottas has gotten those results. Must make wonders for one’s mental strength when you’re not screwed by bad luck every single weekend. I’m more optimistic about Bottas staying on this level the whole season.

  5. Mercedes been talking bs about Ferrari being quickest again? Shocking. Starting to get just a little bit boring listening to Mercedes last few seasons.

    1. Mercedes said: Ferrari are fastest on the straights. What they dint tell us was, we are quicker in the corners.

      So, we need Ferrari to tell us that, Mercedes are faster in the corners lol

      1. I remember Mercedes was saying Ferrari have 0.4 sec advantage on the straight, how could Mercedes overcome and gain 0.7 sec on corners? This is impossible!

        1. It’s easier to gain time in the corners than on the straights.
          And as a bonus you can accelerate ealier to limit your defecit on the straights.

    2. Mercedes, the data, and everyone else has been saying the Ferrari is quickest on the straights. Hamilton, Vettel and numerous others have been saying the Merc has it in the corners. In the official Mercedes Thursday press conference Hamilton highlighted about a half a dozen areas; in particular corner speed, where Mercedes could or would beat Ferrari.

      1. How was it then that Merc had the beating of Ferrari in S3 then? I’m not disputing that Ferrari are quicker on the straights, but if Ferrari were matching Hamilton in Merc in S2 on the final lap (as Crofty said), then you’d think that surely they wouldn’t lose 2 tenths or so in the final sector, if they’re gaining 3 tenths or so on the straight itself.

        1. @hugh11 on the side by onboard comparison Vettel seemed to lose a lot compared to Bottas in the turn 11-12 “chicane” in particular. Also the fact that Ferrari were even in sector 2 suggests that they’d added downforce to aid them in the corners (maybe to help them preserve their tyres better in the race?)

        2. @hugh11, Vettel was noticeably quicker on the back straight than Bottas – Vettel had the highest recorded top speed, at 327.1kph, with Leclerc second fastest at 326.1kph: Bottas, meanwhile, was clocked at 322.0kph.

          Similarly, if you look at how fast the cars were when they crossed the finishing line, Vettel was the fastest again, being clocked at 275.6kph, with Leclerc second at 274.6kph: once again, Bottas was slightly slower, only hitting 271.9kph at the finishing line.

          When you look at the onboard footage, it looks like Vettel and Leclerc were both losing a lot of time in the slower speed corners. In Turn 11, for example, Vettel’s apex speed was only 90kph, versus about 105kph for Bottas: they did take slightly different lines through Turn 12, so a comparison there is harder, but again Bottas’s apex speed looked slightly higher. It therefore means that, when they entered the back straight, Bottas entered the straight going about 3kph faster than Vettel was (245kph versus 242kph), although by the end of the straight Vettel went from beign 3kph down to 5kph up on Bottas.

          You can see a similar tend in Turn 14 – Vettel’s straight line speed before he hits the brakes is higher, but he has to start braking slightly earlier and slows down to about 65kph at the apex of the corner, versus about 74kph for Bottas. Despite the fact that Vettel’s apex speed was lower than Bottas’s apex speed through the hairpin, Vettel was matching Bottas for straight line speed (260kph for Bottas, versus 259kph for Vettel) before they started braking for the final corner.

          There is a similar trend through the final corner – Bottas went through the apex of that corner at 182kph, whereas Vettel was 11kph slower at 171kph. However, as I’ve noted above, although Bottas was much faster at the apex of the corner, and despite having a clean exit, by the time that they reached the finish line, Vettel was faster through that speed trap.

          As Dom notes, although there are not many corners in the final sector, most of those corners are low to medium speed corners, with several having an apex speed below <120kph. Even though Ferrari's acceleration rate is higher and their end of straight speed is higher, they are so slow in relation to Mercedes in the low speed corners that the time lost in those corners is outweighing what they can gain on the straights.

    3. Ferrari was quicker than them on Bahrain in qualifying and in race. They lost because of power unit issue and one of their drivers spinning out. From a performance standpoint Ferrari are pretty fast. Also don’t forget the off season tests.

      But we are talking about differences of less than a second here, the smallest of other factors can determine the difference between winning and losing. Thats how competitive they are (well at the top two level anyways…..).

  6. It will be really interesting battle tomorrow in the F1.5 pack between two Ferraris and Max.

  7. Wow! Those Mercedes guys. The best underdog history in the sport!

    Shame we didn’t saw another lap from Max, he could have been there on the mix. But they only have themselves to blame.

  8. Mercedes doing a qualifying strategy by slowing down everyone.

    1. VER messed up. LEC, VET and RIC (both still behind VER in sector 2) all bettered their lap times.
      VER also ensured GAS couldn’t do a 2nd lap.

  9. Lewis and Ferraris did well to recover there. Looked like Bot will be on pole by half a second.
    The soft tyres seem to go by the end of lap. Lewis hooked up sector 1 and 2 but lost time in sector 3 in which he was purple the previous lap.

  10. Am i mistaken or Lewis from the front runners will be the only one who will start the race tomorrow on mediums?

    1. Top 5 will start on Mediums.
      Haas are in difficult situation. The soft tyres are not even lasting one complete qualy lap. Tomorrow all those starting on softs will find it tricky with very early stops

      1. Basically the Renaults, Haas and Gasly are screwed. They’ll be feeling the heat from Perez, kimi and kvyat by the end of lap 5.

        1. @todfod From my observations and guts, I agree that Haas are screwed (they haven’t manage to be as competitive on race as on qualifying) but not so sure about the Renaults. It seems they have good pace and tire management in longer runs (ever since the Winter Testing). So yes, they will need to stop sooner BUT maybe they are able to keep the other behind long enough to not loose the strategy batlte.
          Gasly I am not really sure; the guy just seems to be struggling with many things and we can’t translate Max race pace and long sting performance (including tire management) into him as it is almost like he’s in a different car altogether (someone mentioned it seems we have 1 Red Bull and 3 Toro Rossos this season and it was a spot-on comment)

    2. They will all start in the mediums lord Sidious. From P1 to P5.

      Bottas and Vettel aborted their runs on the mediums.

      Your dark powers alone should be able to sense that in the force

    3. No. Both Mercs, Ferraris and Max will start on mediums.

    4. conreezy kelvin
      13th April 2019, 8:58

      I think those with Medium starting tires might have an advantage, there is a speculation that a two stop is quicker than a one stop and given you can easily overtake in this circuit having fresh tires in the last 15 or so laps is a big advantage.

    5. With the ease of overtake in china i suspect midfield teams and soft compound starters will go for a two stop strategy which means those medium starters dont hold any advantage and may have to dump their medium early too

  11. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    13th April 2019, 8:39

    Bottas was very good today. Props to him. Classic Hamilton to be honest in the start of the season. Not to take anything from Bottas, but Lewis isn’t known for perform at his peak in the first rounds.

    Vettel and Leclerc gave their everything and I think it shows they are pretty much equal in terms of qualifying performance so far. Also kudos to Ferrari boys for letting Vettel to know he needs to speed up.

    As for the rest, Gasly is a serious disappointment, and Renault is once again competitive. Was disappointed with McLaren a bit but hey you can’t have everything. They were great in the previous two races but not here. Hopefully, they have better race pace.

  12. Williams driver 0.028 difference
    Ferrari drivers 0.017 difference
    Mercedes drivers 0.023 difference
    Renault drivers 0.004 difference
    RED BULL drivers 0.841 difference! I foresee Kvyat back at red bull if this continues for Gasly

    1. If RedBull were smart, they’d get JEV in the car!

      1. @nick101
        If red bull knew that the state of their junior program was going to deteriorate this badly… I don’t think they would have let Bueno or jev leave

        1. Bueno or Jev.. Sorry I couldn’t see what I was typing because of the horrendous experience of race fans site on my mobile device

          1. Indeed racefans.net doesn’t use the limited screenspace on a mobile very well, @todfod.
            When commenting I cannot even see what I’m typing (herewith my general excuse for all the weird comments I’ve made and will make).

    2. might actually be a good thing for Gasly, @kpcart.

  13. For anyone interested, KUB, RUS onboard comparison fp2: https://streamable.com/4qi8e
    RUS fp3:
    KUB fp3:
    KUB qlf1: 2nd of 3 laps:

  14. Who is the better driver, Charles or Vallteri?

    1. Vettel or Hamilton?
      Albon or Kvyat?
      Perez or Stroll?
      Magnussen or Grosjean?
      Hulkenberg or Ricciardo?
      Norris or Sainz?
      Giovinazzi or Räikkönen?
      Russel or Kubica?
      Verstappen or… Oh hang on.

      1. Mine was a comment on how Seb is treated on this site, vs Lewis.
        Some of it is deserved, some of it is pretty unfair.
        If Charles had beaten Seb today, it would be one of the main themes. Now, many focus on how Lewis recovered from a bad weekend. The narratives are pretty skewed.

    2. Electroball76
      13th April 2019, 11:23

      Valtteri is beating Lewis, has a grizzly beard, and does rally in the snow just for fun.
      Charles drives ultimate fastest Ferrari and so is gifted the championship.

  15. Good qualy session, very tight between most teammate pairings. Although, having just watched channel 4 highlights it’s a bit frustrating that we only got to see Hamilton’s laps for most of the session. Didn’t see any of Bottas until the replays, despite him being fastest on most laps. Coverage isnt usually this one sided but this one was bad (unsure how much is down to C4 and how much the local director).

    1. Typically all the driving action is the world feed, @keithedin.

      Maybe it was due to Lewis’ wife watching from the stands ;)

  16. I’m not quite sure whether Gasly is having a drive he realistically shouldn’t have or whether Verstappen is the faster driver on the grid by a bigger margin than what’s been assumed so far.

  17. Can we please stop carrying Mercedes’ water for them now? It has been repeated over and over that Ferrari has the better car since at least the start of last season (2018) and probably a bit into 2017.

    At most, the cars are fairly equal with some track to track impact on relative performance. More likely, in my opinion, is that Mercedes has the overall more reliable and more usable car. And has had since 2014. Ferrari have a car that is very close now, but if it cannot get front row consistently, or it cannot hold up for a full race, then it doesn’t matter.

    TL;DR: Please quit saying Ferrari is better as Merc stomps to pole regularly.

Comments are closed.