Lewis Hamilton cast doubt on his Mercedes team's Chinese Grand Prix chances today, after Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari front-row lockout in qualifying yesterday with his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in second.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest and his Mercedes teammate and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton fourth.
After years of qualifying inadequacies and under-performing on a Saturday, the Scuderia have finally made a auto that can beat the Mercs. I don't know. There is nothing I can do.
Crucially, it was a full second clear of Hamilton's quickest effort. It was also Ferrari's second successive front row lock-out. But more pertinently he will have begun the season with a remarkable advantage. Haas driver Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10.
"(Either) Mercedes were really struggling out there or Ferrari were just unbelievably on it".
Hamilton has an impressive record in China and is determined to claw back at least some of his 17-point deficit to Vettel in the overall standings after the German powered to victory in the opening two races in Australia and Bahrain. We were quicker in the last race (in Bahrain) but they (Ferrari) were able to hold on.
"We're lacking grip, and you can fall out of the window by the tyres getting too hot, or by the tyres being too cold", Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
Hamilton is aware of the size of the task facing him on race day at the Shanghai International Circuit but is hopeful of fighting the Ferraris. The start will be an opportunity, and the strategy, too, but the vehicle felt like night and day.
Lewis Hamilton admits his side of the Mercedes Formula 1 garage is now underperforming based on what he called a "disaster" of a Chinese Grand Prix.
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Another interesting team to watch will be Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo failed to set a time after suffering a suspected turbo failure in final practice.
The Brit had been prepared for a tough weekend, stating that he felt Ferrari would be hard to beat on a circuit with such long straights given the power of their engine.
Sergey Sirotkin was knocked out in Q1 at the last minute when Sainz jumped up the order lap and pushed the Williams driver down to 16th place in the dying moments of the first stage of qualifying.
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