Australia's Daniel Ricciardo signs autographs for fans ahead of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.  Picture: Chen Di/Imaginechina/AP
Australia's Daniel Ricciardo signs autographs for fans ahead of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Picture: Chen Di/Imaginechina/AP

Ricciardo takes seventh spot on the grid in China

DANIEL Ricciardo has for the first time as a Renault driver qualified in the top 10, following an improved showing at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Australian ace will start Sunday's race - the 1000th in Formula One History - in seventh after sneaking into Q3 and finishing just 0.004 seconds ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

The day, however, belonged to Valtteri Bottas, who narrowly held off his five-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton to make it a Mercedes front-row lockout.

Even so, the Finnish driver boldly claimed he had left plenty of time out on track after earning his first pole position of the season.

"The lap was OK. Not completely how I want it. The car has been really good this weekend and Lewis improved a lot. It was super close," he said after the session.

Ferrari once again failed to deliver on their early promise, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc qualifying in third and fourth respectively.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was only quick enough for fifth and blew up on team radio, refusing to complete his final run after multiple cars passed him on his outlap.

"F---, I'm finished mate," he said. "Everybody just f---ed it up."

Earlier, Ricciardo survived the cut for Q3 by only 0.022 seconds over Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. The Aussie took a conservative approach to the final 10 minutes - completing his first run on used tyres before saving his best until last.

He just pipped Hulkenberg, while Haas's Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen didn't post a time in the final session.

In Q1, Charles Leclerc was put out by traffic, which forced him to complete a second hot lap and burn up more rubber before the latter stages.

Alexander Albon didn't participate after putting his car into the wall on pit straight late in practice three, while Sauber's Antonio Giovinazzi was left stranded in the pits with a power unit issue and didn't set a time.

Also out in Q1 was Lance Stroll, making it seven consecutive times the Racing Point driver hasn't made it to the second qualifying session.

Williams suffered a double Q1 elimination again with both George Russell and Robert Kubica having an early shower.

"Sorry guys, rubbish lap. Rubbish," Russell said over team radio after his elimination.

RESULTS:

1 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes 1:31.547

2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.023

3 Sebastian VETTEL Ferrari +0.301

4 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.318

5 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.542

6 Pierre GASLY Red Bull Racing +1.383

7 Daniel RICCIARDO Renault +1.411

8 Nico HULKENBERG Renault +1.415

9 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team - -

10 Romain GROSJEAN Haas F1 Team

OUT IN Q2

11 Daniil KVYAT Toro Rosso

12 Sergio PEREZ Racing Point

13 Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN Alfa Romeo Racing

14 Carlos SAINZ McLaren

15 Lando NORRIS McLaren

OUT IN Q3

16 Lance STROLL Racing Point

17 George RUSSELL Williams

18 Robert KUBICA Williams

19 Antonio GIOVINAZZI Alfa Romeo Racing

20 Alexander ALBON Toro Rosso

News Corp Australia

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