F1

Lewis Hamilton pays classy tribute to Valtteri Bottas after pole finish at Chinese GP

Bottas, 29, had never qualified on the front row in Shanghai in his six years as an F1 driver.

But the Finn put that right on Saturday when he finished 0.023 secs ahead of Hamilton to ensure he starts on the front of the grid for Sunday’s race.

It’s the 59th time the Mercedes have locked out the front row during qualifying and Bottas’ team-mate Hamilton was impressed with the display.

“I didn’t give up, I kept pushing him right to the end,” he said. “Big congratulations to Valtteri, he’s been stellar all weekend.

“I’ve been fighting the car all weekend and been chipping away at it.

“But I’m much happier with it as the gap between us was eight tenths so to be as close as we are at the end is fantastic.

“It’s an incredible result for the team, there’s a little bit more time on the table there but that’s cool, I’ll try and get it tomorrow.”

Ferrari are rapid on the straights but they just don’t have an answer to Bottas and Hamilton’s speed around the corners.

I felt very comfortable today in the practice and in the qualifying

Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas

Five-time world champion Hamilton lauded his team for getting the car’s set-up right and said: “Ferrari are particularly quick on the straights but it’s evident this weekend we’ve managed to pull some performance from the corners.

“It’s just great work from the guys back at the factory in analysing the last two races. It’s really positive for us, I’m really happy.”

It’s the seventh pole of the Finn’s career, his first of the 2019 season and came after dominant performances throughout practice.

“It’s been a good weekend so far. I felt very comfortable today in the practice and in the qualifying,” Bottas said.

“I struggled a bit in Q3 to get the perfect lap in but it was good enough.

“The lap was okay, not completely how I wanted but luckily it was good enough for pole.

“The car has been really good this weekend.”

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