Monday, 22 April, 2019

Vettel sets the pace in first Chinese GP practice

Ferrari Ferrari
Jennie Wade | 15 April, 2019, 05:12

Ferrari nearly cost Vettel by leaving him this late until he took matters into his own hands.

Leclerc indicated he could be a title contender in Bahrain, but was behind Vettel in both sessions.

"I'm just focusing on trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my auto", the Formula One website quoted him as saying.

He was 46 years and 41 days when he clinched his fifth championship (PA Archive/PA Images) Out of the 764 drivers to have started an F1 race, the United Kingdom - with 163 - has had more participants than any other country (David Davies/PA) Monza has staged more grands prix (68) than any other country. "There's long corners which put a lot of load on the tyres and actually the soft degrades more during the lap, even one lap, than the medium so soft might be a lot quicker at the beginning of the lap but by the end of the lap it is slower than the medium tyre".

This, it must be reminded, is a driver who seems to be on a machine that, according to many around, is probably the best after the big three (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull) in the midfield.

"We made it to the top of the timesheets but it is always very hard to find a good balance through an entire lap on this track", said Bottas. "Hopefully we can recover and take the win here in Shanghai". He also vowed to gain revenge the next time he qualifies for a race.

Sebastian Vettel has a fourth- and fifth-place finish to his name, while Charles Leclerc claimed pole position in Bahrain but could only finish third after suffering engine issues.

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Today's racing is at the Shanghai International Circuit, home of the China Grand Prix, which today has the numerical distinction of hosting the 1000th GP in F1 history - more on that later.

But the German heads into tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix on a 231-day losing streak, while it is also uncertain whether he will continue to enjoy the backing of Ferrari as their number one driver.

Leclerc dominated the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend but his Ferrari SF90 lost a cylinder during the closing stages, which was eventually traced to a never-before-seen short circuit within an injection system control unit.

Throughout the session, all four drivers were swapping and changing positions, perhaps showing clues of a small difference between the Ferrari and Mercedes cars this weekend.

The Chinese GP has seen a different driver winning in each of the last three seasons and only three drivers-Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg-have finished on top of the podium a few times in Shanghai. For Mark Webber, whom Vettel himself upset as a young upstart at Red Bull, this will feel like karma.

Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault during the 2017 season, called Vettel's spin in Bahrain - where he was duelling with Hamilton - "amateur".

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