Valtteri Bottas edges out Lewis Hamilton to take pole in China

Lewis Hamilton was beaten to pole position for Formula One's 1,000th race by Valtteri Bottas.

In a nail-biting session, Bottas saw off the five-time world champion by just 0.023 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The form guide indicated that Ferrari might be the team to beat here, but after they were off the pace at the last round in Bahrain, Mercedes returned to their all-conquering best.

Sebastian Vettel was a third of a second down on Bottas' Silver Arrows, with team-mate Charles Leclerc fourth. Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished fifth.

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Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Red Bull's Pierre Gasly REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Red Bull's Max Verstappen REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Williams' Robert Kubica REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Williams' George Russell REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. REUTERS/Edgar Su
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 14: Daniel RICCIARDO's helmet of Renault Sport F1 Team on day 1 of the 2019 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix (Photo credit should read Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of McLaren’s Lando Norris REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 14, 2019 The helmet of Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen REUTERS/Edgar Su
SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 11: The 1000th F1 GP helmet of Alex Albon of Scuderia Toro Rosso and Thailand during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 11, 2019 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
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The Dutchman was furious after he failed to cross the line in time to post a final lap.

"It has been a good weekend so far," said Bottas, who leads Hamilton in the championship by just one point. "I struggled to get the perfect lap in, but it was good enough."

Hamilton, a five-time winner in China, said: "I didn't give up and kept pushing right to the end.

"Valtteri has been stellar all weekend. I have struggled. There is time left on the table, but I will try and get it back tomorrow."

Lando Norris fell at the second hurdle of qualifying for the first time in his short career.

Lando Norris
Lando Norris faces a fight for another top-10 finish (Andy Wong/AP)

The 19-year-old collected his inaugural points with a fine drive to sixth in Bahrain a fortnight ago, but faces a fight for another top-10 finish, finishing only 15th.

Norris was half-a-second slower than Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren. The Spaniard will start just one spot higher than Norris on a disappointing afternoon for the British team.

George Russell described his lap as awful, but the English novice still managed to put his under-performing Williams ahead of his team-mate Robert Kubica on the grid.

Russell, who lines up in 17th, has now out-qualified the Pole, back in the sport eight years after his horror rally crash, at all three rounds.

The Williams cars will not be on the final row for tomorrow's race after London-born Alexander Albon and Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi played no part in qualifying.

Albon, who races under the Thai flag, wrote off his Toro Rosso following a 130mph shunt on the exit of the final corner in practice on Saturday morning.

Albon, 23, walked away unscathed and was given the all-clear by trackside medics, but his team were unable to get his car ready in time. Giovinazzi meanwhile was restricted to the garage with a mechanical issue.

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