Bottas felt Mercedes 'deserved' Chinese GP victory

  • Bottas felt Mercedes 'deserved' Chinese GP victory

Bottas felt Mercedes 'deserved' Chinese GP victory

"The vehicle was really wonderful, it just kept getting better".

Despite Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen looking stronger than the German throughout most of the three segments of qualifying, Vettel stormed to his 52 career pole position with a lap of 1min.

"Nothing really happened", he said, when asked how he had lost out in the final sector.

Not only were the Silver Arrows half a second off the pace, but the Briton was out-qualified by team-mate Bottas for the second race in a row.

The Austrian added, "We haven't suddenly lost our understanding of the auto, and equally, the vehicle is not suddenly going slower".

The incident robbed Red Bull the chance of a one-two finish, with Daniel Ricciardo's sublime charge through the field showing just how much pace the team had in pace over its rivals in the closing stages. They should be able to respond with a good result considering they've had three double top-five finishes in the last four races here, but the pressure is undoubtedly on after such a shaky start to the season.

"We start fourth and I'm going to have to fight from there". Ferrari have not been victorious in Shanghai since Fernando Alonso took the flag in 2013, although Vettel was second past year, in a race dominated by Hamilton and Mercedes, who have won every meeting here since the turbo hybrid era began in 2014. With both teams now appearing to be evenly matched in terms of engine power and straight-line speed, Bottas admits Mercedes has work to do in terms of improving its understanding of the Pirelli tyres and general improvements to its chassis and aerodynamic performance.

"That would not be the right mindset", he said.

Bottas felt like he had got everything out of the vehicle but pole had still been out of reach. "The amusing thing about being outperformed on Saturday is that you are the lion that is just waiting to jump on its prey".

But Red Bull could still be in the mix for victory in China, if it can gain track position thanks to the advantage of extra grip off the start line afforded by running the softest tyre. "We definitely were not doing that for the cameras", said a clearly relieved Ricciardo.

The Mercedes driver finished fourth in Shanghai as Daniel Ricciardo raced to victory following a crucial pit stop call. "That will be fun".

The gap is likely to add to consternation in the Mercedes camp that has been building since Vettel took the first two races of the season in Australia and Bahrain. They are two extremes like we had in Bahrain and I think this is what happened. "It is a track where you just need to get in and find that sweet spot".

The second Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr. was only 0.061 seconds behind Perez and Haas-Ferrari's Romain Grosjean was only 0.036 seconds behind Sainz to complete the top ten.