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Ferrari left Leclerc out to try to hold up Mercedes

Ferrari left Leclerc out to try to hold up Mercedes

"I had a pretty big crash in FP3 but I'm OK, I'm just more disappointed I made a mistake", Albon later said of the incident. It's always a little bit loose and normally you can recover it, but this time I was a bit greedy with the throttle. He tried to regain control, but the auto spun around as Albon plowed the front left side into a wall near the pit lane, with parts of the vehicle scattered across the track.

"Things are looking good, but I'm really, really proud for the team". It makes racing unpredictable and I'm sure we will see an exciting race tomorrow as well.

Bottas, who leads the championship by one point from title-holder Hamilton after two races, scorched to a best time of one minute 31.547 seconds.

The Finn was just 0.027 seconds clear of Vettel, who was fastest in the morning by a 0.207-second margin ahead of Hamilton.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh, earning his first points of the 2019 Formula One season, but Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg didn't finish.

Although he has not enjoyed the strongest start to the season and is still attempting to extract the best from his auto, he has scored well with second in the opening race now followed by two wins.

He was asked about the team orders and didn't give a straight answer in the post-race press conference sitting alongside Bottas and Hamilton.

Binotto explained that Leclerc was moved aside for Vettel early on because Mercedes was edging away and Ferrari was at risk of one of its drivers falling behind Verstappen anyway if the Red Bull pitted earlier, which it did. Leclerc would have won comfortably but had an engine failure late in the race.

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Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain is nicely clear during the Chinese GP at Shanghai International Circuit.

Bottas outqualified Hamilton for the first time this year in Shanghai and Wolff puts his improved form relative to his teammate down to the type of track.

"The start was really where I was able to make the difference and after that it was history", he said.

The youngster's session ended early as he parked up in the garage with some 20 minutes to go so that Ferrari could carry out cooling checks. "Clearly today we were not as fast as Mercedes", said Vettel.

"So, I think race start was the key - but Lewis did a good job on that".

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

"It's obviously important, if we can't beat them, to be right behind them", he said.

"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. The opening lap saw the virtual safety vehicle (VSC) being deployed as Torro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat slid and bounced to crash into Carlos Sainz and Land Norrris' respective McLarens.