Max Verstappen knew he had just one shot at Sebastian Vettel

Max Verstappen knew he had just one shot at Sebastian Vettel

Valtteri Bottas will start the 1,000th Formula One race in pole position after holding off team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Shanghai.

Mercedes has gone 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 in the first three races of the new Formula One season, a great start for the sport's dominating team.

Instead, the two Mercedes - with Lewis Hamilton jumping polesitter Bottas - moved away from the field and ended up securing the team's 47th one-two finish as Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc simply didn't have the pace to even get close to launching an attack. China was the third consecutive race Ferrari had told Leclerc to either not overtake Vettel or to let him pass - in Australia he did as he was told, but in Bahrain he ignored the order and passed Vettel anyway.

Vettel takes third, with his seniority giving him an early and unbeatable advantage over Leclerc, who takes fifth.

"I felt I could go faster (than Leclerc) but it was a bit hard for me to find a rhythm and locked up, losing the advantage I gained".

"I thought I was faster in the vehicle", he said. Hamilton got the better start, though, and was soon in the lead.

Vettel added that he gave Verstappen sufficient room as he knew the Red Bull driver would try and snatch the position.

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After the opening three races in 2017 and past year, Hamilton was adrift of Vettel by seven and nine points respectively, only to claim the title on both occasions with two rounds remaining.

Bottas topped qualifying in 1 minute, 31.547 seconds with Hamilton second in 1:31.570.

"I don't think it's frustrating".

But the team had made their mind up and by pitting Vettel first they sacrificed Leclerc, who came out behind Verstappen and struggled to test the Red Bull driver later.

"Happy to be on the podium, but tough, because we tried to stick with them, but we just couldn't". "I think Mercedes has been in a very different situation, but I think it's not the first time that we've seen something like that". I answered that I felt I can. It's been a dream start to 2019 for Mercedes, and it's happened despite them not always having the best package.

"We are fighting for our own race, but usually with this kind of stuff, it's never pleasant, but it's a bit also of what goes around comes around". We saw that we had quite a big margin behind us in the last few laps, so we chose to go for it and have an extra pit stop which worked. We have so many races, only time will tell whether we did something right or wrong.

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

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