Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth pole in a row and sixth in China, while Max Verstappen failed to get out of Q1 with software issues.
Lewis Hamilton: “It's been an interesting weekend so far, obviously, after missing running yesterday. It's been a challenge for all of us, trying to compile a lot of yesterday's work into this morning. Ferrari have been so fast through practice and then into qualifying. We knew it was going to be close and that we'd have to pull out all the stops to beat them. I managed to just chip away at it session to session, then make my last lap my fastest lap – which is always the target but doesn't always work out that way. The lap started off not quite as well as my previous attempts. But from there it got better and better. I felt really strong coming into the final corner knowing I was up by a couple of tenths. But it's always a bit nervy going into Turn 14, as you want to brake late to gain some time but it's easy to lose more if you get it wrong. Waiting to find out what the others had done after I crossed the line was pretty tense! I'm really happy with today and super grateful for the huge effort the team had put in to keep us in the fight. It's more exciting than ever right now. We're really fighting these guys out there and that's what racing's all about. It pushed you to raise the bar every time you go out, which I love. A big thank you to all the fans too. There were a lot of British flags out there which is great to see.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It's a real shame Sebastian managed to get between us. I think last time it was a couple of hundredths and now it's a thousandth. Around a lap here there are a quite a lot of places you can lose one thousandth of a second, so I will look to see where improvements can be made as always. But anyway, the race is tomorrow and we are first and third on the grid as a team, which is a good place to start. Anything can happen with the weather too. Lewis was strong today and Ferrari were very quick too. We were always expecting a close fight and I think it will be the same tomorrow. Thanks again to the team, who did a great job in the short amount of practice time we had today to get the car set up well. It was really enjoyable to drive. Let's see what tomorrow brings.”
Sebastian Vettel: “It was a bit closer than in Australia, so a good session overall with lots of chances for tomorrow. We’ll see what the race can bring, with the different conditions and everything. Of course I would have liked to be even closer, knowing that the Mercedes would be very strong in Q3, as they proved to be. We had some luck with Valtteri, because when you’re a thousand of a second apart, it could be one way or the other. I was happy with my lap, even if I braked a bit too early for the last corner, hit the kerb hard and had to wait for the car to settle. That’s where I lost a bit of time, but not all the gap to Lewis. There wasn’t much more I could have gained. So this result on a totally different track, with conditions significantly cooler than Melbourne, is definitely good news. The confidence is there, I trust what the car is telling me and she seems to respond to what I tell her. It’s a good match but we need to improve further.
Kimi Raikkonen: “I’m not that surprised from the result after strong performance in Q2, because in the end I was struggling a bit with the front end, especially in the first corners; in Turn 3 there was not much we could gain. It has been tricky to get everything right, with the limited running we had yesterday, and we’re still not 100 per cent where we want to be, up there in front. There are some details in the set-up that need to be improved, and as you push more they become more apparent, but it’s already better than in Melbourne. Handling-wise the car wasn’t bad, even though I had experienced understeer in the beginning and then, for whatever reason, it changed to oversteer. In Q2 I made two runs, because we had tires available so why not go out and see what the other cars were doing? Conditions will be different for tomorrow and there will be a bit of guessing for everyone if it rains, so we’ll see."
"Personally I'm happy with what I was able to get out of the car this afternoon but obviously as a team and as a driver we want more. I felt like up until today we still probably hadn't got the most out of the setup but in qualifying I felt pretty comfortable with the car. I could lean on it more or less as much as I wanted but we are still missing some performance compared to Mercedes and Ferrari. However, I felt we improved the balance a lot from this morning and we made some bold changes which helped us in qualifying.
"You won't see me looking disappointed if it rains tomorrow as the wet conditions always create more opportunities and it will be up to me to maximise those if it happens. We hope to have a good car in the wet; downforce plays a huge role in those conditions so we will have to wait and see. Whatever happens it will certainly be an exciting race for the spectators and we will do all we can to be on the podium."
"Starting from nineteenth on the grid is going to be tough but I think there is rain on the way. There was something misfiring in the engine which meant we were down on power, I tried to do a lap that could at least get me through to Q2 but the issue just wouldn't let me. The guys will investigate this evening and I'm confident they can resolve it for the race. It is of course very unfortunate but these things happen and we need to move on.
"A bit of rain tomorrow will definitely help us but I think even in the wet it will be tough to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes. We need to concentrate on what we have and do the best we can. I will go home tonight, get some good rest and sleep, then come to the track ready to attack on what will hopefully be a wet track. If it is dry tomorrow you lose too much time starting from where I am on the grid. We will see, some good overtakes and exciting racing is what I'm hoping for."