After claiming pole-position for the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas predicts a “tight race” with his team-mate and Scuderia Ferrari as he looks to hold on to his championship lead.
Bottas appeared to have the measure of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport team-mate Lewis Hamilton throughout the three practice sessions in China and was able to hold that advantage in qualifying, edging out Hamilton by 0.023seconds to claim his seventh pole-position.
“It feels good to be on pole,” said Bottas. “I think it’s going to be a very close race tomorrow, so it’s a good thing to start from the front.
“It’s been a strong weekend for us so far and it was nice to continue that way in the first session that counted. Because in the end when you go into Qualifying it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a good weekend up to that point; the only thing that counts is if you can deliver a good lap. I’m happy I was able to do that today.”
Despite giving away up to 10kph to Ferrari on the straights, Mercedes’ advantage in the corners was enough to lock out the front row. To hold that advantage, Bottas points to a strong race strategy as key to scoring victory.
“I think we were still a little bit behind on the straights compared to Ferrari, but we were stronger in the corners and ultimately gained more than we lost to them on the straights.
“It will be a tight race tomorrow and we will need a strong race pace and the right strategy to win. I’ll also need a good start in order to keep the lead as I’m sure both Lewis and the Ferraris will be pushing.
“We’ve been strong all weekend long so we need to continue to perform at this level to get the job done tomorrow.”