In a thrilling qualifying session in China, worthy of the 1000th World Championship race, Valtteri Bottas secured his first pole position since Russia 2018, edging his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.023s, with the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc around three tenths adrift.
Having never started on the front row before in Shanghai, current world championship leader Bottas put in a confident performance in Q3 to lap the Shanghai International Circuit in 1m 31.547s, and give Mercedes the advantage heading into Sunday’s race.
In fifth place was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, the Dutchman left unhappy after backed up traffic prevented him from making a final attempt. His teammate Pierre Gasly, making his first appearance of Q3 this year, was sixth, but a full 0.841s off Verstappen’s pace.
It was a great qualifying for Renault, who locked out the fourth row of the grid in their own first Q3 appearance of 2019, Daniel Ricciardo pipping his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg and ahead of the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who didn’t set a lap time in the final segment of the session.