Chinese GP, F1's 1,000th race: Bottas fastest in practice

Chinese GP, F1's 1,000th race: Bottas fastest in practice

The feel-good factor that surrounded Ferrari during the winter tests is a long-distant memory, as the Scuderia has struggled in the opening two rounds.

Leclerc ignored a team order to remain behind Vettel in Bahrain, having held station when asked to in Australia. "The vehicle has the pace in it to compete at the front, we just need to find the right set-up".

The fact is that some of the 999 championship races thus far have been questionable Grands Prix and several past race winners never even drove a Formula One auto.

Historical debates aside, this weekend is the 1,000 time a Formula One race will award points towards an overall world championship since it first did so 69 years ago.

Valtteri Bottas spun his Mercedes before upstaging teammate Lewis Hamilton and their Ferrari rivals to go fastest in practice on Friday for the Chinese Grand Prix. "At the beginning I tried not to drop too much with the soft tyres behind the top five on the mediums and tried to take care of it". In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 87 points versus the 48 of Ferrari and 31 of Red Bull.

As Britain's vehicle industry thrived during the latter 20 century added with the world's leading engineers, this was reflected on the grid as Tyrell, Lotus, Williams and McLaren took centre stage, to showpiece some of the most enthralling cars and title wins the sport has seen.

The four-time world champion also attracted attention on social media during the session for telling his Ferrari mechanics to cool down the brakes of Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon, whose brakes were on fire at the FIA weighbridge.

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Being able to say they triumphed in the 1,000th race is added incentive for all drivers and teams.

So Vettel started a domino effect by passing Hulkenberg and Ricciardo first and then on the second last corner he overtook Verstappen who was going really slow in an attempt to build up a gap between himself and Leclerc ahead of him so he could put in a fast lap in clean air.

But the German heads into tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix on a 231-day losing streak, while it is also uncertain whether he will continue to enjoy the backing of Ferrari as their number one driver. That requires a slightly different setup to numerous other circuits on the calendar, as drivers look to protect the front tyres rather than the rears.

"I hope that we do not have to rely on reliability and hope that we have a much closer race", he said.

Bookmakers are backing Ferrari to overcome a hard start to the season and put the struggles of the first two weekends behind it.

But that told, Magnussen won't have enough zoom in his wheels to beat a Red Bull just yet, even though it may seem that beating Gasly shouldn't pose such a problem.

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