Chinese Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole with track record

Ricciardo raises his trophy as he celebrates after winning the Chinese Grand Prix

Ricciardo raises his trophy as he celebrates after winning the Chinese Grand Prix

"We can see it, especially in very long corners". This time though, they were behind their major rivals by more than half a second.

This wasn't a high-downforce circuit, such as Monaco or Singapore, which favours Ferrari's package and leaves Mercedes struggling.

The 52nd career pole for the German comes on the back of a strong run in Bahrain, where the team had the quickest auto over the weekend and they will be further buoyed by this performance It is their first pole in China since Rubens Barrichello was quickest in 2004 and the first time Mercedes have been beaten to the front of this grid here since 2012.

Which is what made the Scuderia's performance so impressive.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said making the tyres work was the problem.

Laconic at the best of times, in the aftermath of a session that might prove to be the turning point of the season, the popular Finn was nearly speechless.

Verstappen - on fresher tires - ambitiously attempted to go down the inside of championship leader Vettel at Turn 14, hitting the German, who finished the race down in eighth with a damaged sidepod.

Ferrari believed they had enough time to send Vettel back out ahead of Bottas, but a slow stop - perhaps caused by extra caution following their pit-lane nightmare in Bahrain - gave the Finn the advantage. We had tailwinds down that straight the whole race.

"He could have taken the front wing off and then it would be game over for both of us". "We have shown in the past we can recover from hard periods".

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Nineteen victories from 19 starts?

F1's tight midfield battle is nearly as engrossing as the battle at the head of the field given the quality of drivers in teams like Haas-Ferrari, Renault F1, McLaren-Renault, Force India-Mercedes and Toro Rosso-Honda and how close they are to each other. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +16.985 5. Will Mercedes respond? It has the hallmarks of an epic race.

"It was clear that the Red Bulls were faster". In fact, it was Red Bull who appeared slightly ahead.

Vettel is riding into the Chinese GP with 50 points in the F1 Driver's Standings. Alas, it was not to be, neither driver able to better their position.

The midfield battle is as tight as ever.

Hamilton apologised to his team for losing places. And don't forget McLaren.

But it was a pretty miserable qualifying for "F1 Team GB", with the McLarens of Alonso and Vandoorne starting in 13th and 14th, and the Williams of Sirotkin and Stroll a miserable 16th and 18th.

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