Albon crashes in final China practice, comes out physically unscathed

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He was later given the all-clear, but missed qualifying because his ruined vehicle could not be fixed in time.

And Ferrari's young driver - who is only in his third race for the team - questioned the decision over team radio, saying: "but I'm pulling away!"

Both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton lock out the front row for the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, with championship leader Bottas capturing pole position ahead of his team-mate.

"First of all it's important because when I read some of the stuff, it looks like a little bit of complaining that we are lacking straight-line speed".

"To have a one-two (for Mercedes) is really special in the 1,000th grand prix but the start was where it made the difference and the rest is history", said the Briton.

"I am really proud for the team we've done three ideal weekends so far that is very good".

"I would have preferred to have spun to the left side of the track, but the auto went to the right and I hit the wall".

The 34-year-old, already one of only three drivers to have won five or more titles, wrote another page in the record books as the victor of the 1,000th world championship race since the first in 1950. I've not really looked into detail why they weren't as quick [in China].

Daniel Ricciardo, who won in China past year, completed his first race since making the switch from Red Bull to Renault.

This is Hamilton's 75thcareer victory and the sixth time he has won the Chinese Grand Prix, its most successful driver.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel took third, after the team ordered team-mate Charles Leclerc to let him by in the opening laps. Leclerc would have won comfortably but had an engine failure late in the race. "Clearly today we were not as fast as Mercedes", said Vettel. "But I think our overall process has been more solid: the platform, pits tops, performance in qualifying".

The gaps could be exaggerated, however, with a mistake forcing Hamilton to abort his first attempt at a flying lap when his tyres would have been at their freshest.

"It's certainly, I wouldn't say explosive, but it's an interesting constellation to have the two Mercedes in front that are very much keen each of them to win - it's about the championship - and then behind you have the battle of the generations with the red ones and Max [Verstappen], who will be keen to recover".

The 21-year-old Leclerc subsequently came fifth in Shanghai and said that the order was "a bit frustrating".

Hamilton was second fastest in the morning but struggled in the afternoon.

"I understand the feeling of Charles, it's a shame for him, but at that stage of the race, the Mercedes was likely faster and we chose to give Sebastian a go and see if he could have kept the pace of the Mercedes, which was key at that stage of the race", said Binotto.

"We arrived here not knowing how we would measure against Ferrari - they were so quick in the last race".

Carlos Sainz finished a further nine seconds back for McLaren in 14th, only ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and the Williams drivers.

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