Thursday, 24 May, 2018


Vettel denies Raikkonen pole for Chinese Grand Prix

A Ferrari win in Shanghai would prompt more questions for Mercedes after Vettel took the first two races of the season in Australia and Bahrain Vettel denies Raikkonen pole for Chinese Grand Prix
Noah Ferguson | 15 April, 2018, 14:54

The Mercedes pair never looked to be a serious pole position threat, with neither Valtteri Bottas nor Lewis Hamilton able to improve on their first-run times in Q3 and both having to abandon their final runs.

The forecast is for a warmer race today and that should be better suited to Hamilton's Mercedes auto, but the Briton, who will have the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo occupying his mirrors, fears he will be looking over his shoulder rather than hunting down Vettel.

"It was hectic. I heard the safety vehicle call at turn 14 and they said we are going to stop". It means back-to-back poles for German star Vettel, who set the fastest time in the final practice session and clinched Ferrari's first China pole in 14 years. "We were half a second behind them in qualifying, which is why I boxed on my final lap because I knew I couldn't match their pace".

Hamilton said it was "good to see all the times so close".

Verstappen was subsequently given a 10-second penalty for causing a collision, but despite seeing his title advantage over Lewis Hamilton slip from 17 to 9 points, Vettel was surprisingly philosophical about what happened.

"We were giving everything we had and it felt like we deserved the victory but not today". The pace just wasn't there, he said. He has won five times in China, including a year ago, and has taken pole six times on the Chinese circuit.

"The vehicle felt okay, but I don't have an answer for it".

"The amusing thing about being outperformed on Saturday is that you are the lion that is just waiting to jump on its prey", he added.

Even the Red Bull of Max Verstappen managed to get ahead of the reigning champion with a quick lap at the end on ultra-softs tyres, but Red Bull finished the session concerned rather than encouraged after Daniel Ricciardo suffered an engine failure with 25 minutes remaining. "We definitely were not doing that for the cameras", said a clearly relieved Ricciardo. I think overall if you take into account all the testing we did et cetera, then Mercedes is still the favourite going in. "That will be fun".

At one stage it looked as if Bottas was going to get his revenge on Sebastian Vettel for Bahrain as Mercedes used the undercut to take the lead off the Ferrari driver. "To have that much of a gap (over Mercedes), it is a surprise". "It is a track where you just need to get in and find that sweet spot".

"Tomorrow it's expected to be a lot warmer, so I hope we have done the right thing set-up-wise and we have better pace in the race than Ferrari".

"I think it will be a tight race between the top three teams and a long tough race, but it's obviously good to start from the front".

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