Bottas on pole in Shanghai as Mercedes dominate qualifying

Thai F1 driver Albon survives spectacular crash | Bangkok Post: news

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

"I'm so sorry guys, I'm ok, but sorry", a shaken Albon was heard saying over his vehicle radio. While Mercedes appears to have the quicker auto over a single lap, Ferrari's superior straight-line speed could see Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc put pressure on their rivals on the kilometre-long back straight.

"I'm OK, not too bad", Albon said, "More frustrated". You can run a bit wider, it just helps you bring that entry speed into the corner, and it's something I've been doing at least for the last run before and the day before as well. It's always a little bit loose and normally you can recover it, but this time I was a bit greedy with the throttle. "I was hoping it would snap left to kind of spin me onto the circuit but it went right into the wall".

"I think we showed our pace a bit in FP2".

"It's not going to be easy, but I think we have the pace to make a few overtakes and hopefully get some more points".

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland celebrates with a crew member after claiming pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.

"It has been a good weekend so far", said Bottas, who leads Hamilton in the championship by just one point. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was 0.392 seconds behind followed by Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

Albon, who had looked in with a good chance of making the top 10, said: "I am OK". What we've seen on our tool is that we are losing three-and-a-half tenths on the straights but we're gaining more in the corners. Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished fifth.

His Honda-powered team won in China previous year, when they used Renault engines, with Ricciardo.

Bottas and Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton had predicted a four-way fight for P1 in Saturday's qualifying session.

Both the 21-year-old Monegasque and Vettel are running a new electronic control package as a precaution against a repeat of Leclerc's engine problem.

"We expect a close battle between Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves, so we need to keep pushing".

Hamilton was second fastest in the morning but struggled in the afternoon. "The auto has the pace in it to compete at the front, we just need to find the right set-up".

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