Sebastian Vettel has said he appreciated the fact that Max Verstappen was quick to apologise for their collision, but warned that his age is now no excuse. But Bottas is already hinting that rival Ferrari is the team to beat. "But it was definitely out of reach today, there was nothing in the lap that we could have gained that much".
Vettel, who finished second in Shanghai a year ago, has five career podium finishes at this race but his only win came all the way back in 2009, so don't be surprised if Hamilton and Mercedes get back to their winning ways this weekend. Both cars were over half a second down on Vettel's pole time.
His Mercedes team have also started each of the last six Chinese Grands Prix from pole.
Hamilton, who will start on the soft tyres as will Ferrari, sounded less sure but hinted he would push to overtake. In Bahrain, we had a stronger vehicle and now we have to figure out why it wasn't the same story here, but that just shows how competitive this midfield battle is.
Raikkonen looked like the faster of the two Ferraris up until the final sector of his final lap where he made a mistake at Turn 14 and lost pole position to a cleaner, more clinical lap from his teammate.
"I think Ferrari are still going to be very strong tomorrow but with Mercedes today, I think we can race them tomorrow". Mind you, the Australian nearly didn't make it out for qualifying after engine failure in FP3, which was followed by a last minute engine swap. But I think that the forecast is for quite some different temperatures, some 20º C hotter track temperature.More news: UEFA to probe Guardiola's 'improper conduct', Liverpool fireworks
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The duo were spotted talking not long after the race and Vettel has revealed the contents of that discussion.
"If we have one strategy on two stops that is the winning one, it means that everybody will do the same, and basically we are not creating any differentiation, we are not creating any action on track".
Hamilton is being hopeful.
Mercedes were expected to dominate the 2018 Formula 1 season after showing ominous pace during the pre-season tests in Barcelona, and Red Bull were considered their closest challengers, while talks were about Ferrari having taken a step back since last season.
The 33-year-old, like Vettel a four-time champion, has taken an unprecedented five wins in Shanghai but recognised that his chances of a sixth had taken a knock.
Force India's Esteban Ocon, McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who tried and failed to successfully make a tow work for each other, and Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley were the others to miss out on the pole position shootout.