Valtteri Bottas grabs pole position at #ChineseGP, Lewis Hamilton second

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS  Thomas Peter

Alexander Albon of Red Bull Toro Rosso walked away from a stunning crash on Saturday in the final practice session ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix. "Big congratulations to Valtteri, he's been stellar all weekend and I've been struggling and fighting the auto", said the Briton.

"Our auto looks really good in terms of downforce level, but we need to improve our straight-line speed". An incredible result for the team.

Albon sat still for an agonizing moment before apologizing to his team over the radio. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel qualified third, ahead of 21-year-old Monegasque team mate Charles Leclerc who was unable to repeat his Bahrain Grand Prix pole of two weeks ago. Ferrari are particularly quick on the straights.

"It's certainly, I wouldn't say explosive, but it's an interesting constellation to have the two Mercedes in front that are very much keen each of them to win - it's about the championship - and then behind you have the battle of the generations with the red ones and Max [Verstappen], who will be keen to recover".

"Ferrari still seem to be quicker than us on the straights, whereas we were better in most corners in FP2 (the second session)".

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"We're going to work hard tonight to find some tweaks and hopefully come back stronger tomorrow", said the five-times champion. "It's annoying because we could have fought for third today".

"First of all it's important because when I read some of the stuff, it looks like a little bit of complaining that we are lacking straight-line speed". It makes racing unpredictable and I'm sure we will see an exciting race tomorrow as well.

Asked if Mercedes would try to use that strength to run and hide, Silver Arrows chief Toto Wolff said: "That's exactly what we want to do!"

Sky F1 expert Simon Lazenby correctly predicted the Thai wouldn't be participating in qualifying later in the afternoon with his auto "disintegrated".

Team-mate Gasly was held up behind him and the Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were also caught out. Along with Antonio Giovinazzi, who failed to set a time in Q1, Albon "will race at the stewards' discretion" on Sunday. The rookie will start from the pit lane on Sunday. "We had a good chance of being in Q3 (the top 10 shootout)". "It was a big crash, but it was a silly one as well". "As a result of the accident, we are changing the PU and sending the one that was in the auto at the time of the crash back to Sakura for a full check".

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