Bottas 'lost' Chinese GP with wheelspin on painted start/finish line

Florence Fletcher
April 15, 2019

Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari's inability to consistently operate at full potential is the reason why Mercedes has swept the opening three rounds of the season and already opened up a 57-point lead in the constructors' championship.

In this photo provided by Cheung Yuk Ling, Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon of Thailand crashes his vehicle during the third practice session for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, Saturday, April 13, 2019.

"Sorry guys", he said over the radio.

The four-time world champion took third behind the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and victor Lewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix, the 1,000th race in Formula One.

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"We, as a team, definitely didn't expect to have three one-twos, but now I'm proud to have been part of the work that everyone has done and to be a part of these results", added the Briton.

"I would have preferred to have spun to the left side of the track, but the auto went to the right and I hit the wall".

They have now scored a hat-trick of one-two finishes as Valtteri Bottas finished second behind the five-times world champion, who claimed his 75th Formula One win in the 1,000th championship race.

"But I just accepted it, did it and focused on my race", said Leclerc, whose truncated responses suggested the frustration lingered.

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Both Ferrari cars were the quicker cars down the straights, but Mercedes manage to find time in the corners which assisted both Bottas and Hamilton on their laps.

Binotto explained that Leclerc was moved aside for Vettel early on because Mercedes was edging away and Ferrari was at risk of one of its drivers falling behind Verstappen anyway if the Red Bull pitted earlier, which it did. However, Red Bull took advantage of a significant gap back to seventh place and pitted Gasly for a new set of softs on the third last lap, allowing him to clock the fastest lap of the race on his final trip around the Shanghai International Circuit and with it a bonus world championship point.

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

Ferrari looked dominant in Bahrain, only to lose out on victory with Leclerc due to an engine problem 10 laps from the end, and neither of the Mercedes pair expected Sunday's result.

"[For us] there will be more improvements to come in the future, but I think we are operating at full potential".

Bottas outqualified Hamilton for the first time this year in Shanghai and Wolff puts his improved form relative to his teammate down to the type of track.

"We had to stop for further checks on something on the oil", said Leclerc. By Lap 27, Bottas had a number of fast laps to his name that concerned Hamilton who wanted to pick up that extra point.

"Our vehicle looks really good in terms of downforce level, but we need to improve our straight-line speed". "But (the race was) tough because we tried to stick with them but just couldn't".

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