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Mercedes blames 'tyre issue' for lack of pace

15 April 2018

Mr. Hamilton was Top of the time sheets on Friday, but the MercedesAMG cars could not answer Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) in qualifying with Sebastian Vettel leading a front-row lockout ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the 2nd weekend running.

Reigning champions Mercedes were favorites to again be the dominant team coming into the new season, but are yet to win a race.

The Briton, like Vettel a four times world champion, has won in Shanghai an unprecedented five times.

"I left a little bit of room as well".

"I don't know if we can challenge, we're half a second behind today". The fundamental base from the vehicle is good, we lost because it's about getting the tyre in the right temperature window - the never ending story.

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"It's good to see all the times so close, but it means that we really need to bring our A game".

Ferrari and Mercedes qualified on the soft tyre, so can attempt a one-stop race using the medium tyre, while Red Bull will probably have to go with two stops, with ultra/ultra/soft the most likely choice, according to Pirelli's own analysis.

Hamilton aborted his final Q3 lap and was there for taking by Red Bull, but Max Verstappen failed to capitalise, falling short in P5 by an agonising 0.012s. The pace just wasn't there, he said.

Having lost ground going off the road in an initial tussle with Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen was fighting Vettel for third place when he pitched both into a spin with a late move at the hairpin.

Vettel had led the race's first stint before losing out to Valtteri Bottas in the pitstop sequence.

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It's been a great result and I am really happy for the team.

Bottas edged his teammate, but both make up the second row, while Red Bull do the same in the third as Australian Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a blown engine in Free Practice 3 to snag sixth spot.

Work was still being done on the Australian's vehicle as Q1 got underway, but he eventually got out just in time and put together a single timed lap of 1:33.877 to just make it into Q2. But he was edged out by Vettel as the German took pole by less than a tenth of a second.

But it was a pretty miserable qualifying for "F1 Team GB", with the McLarens of Alonso and Vandoorne starting in 13th and 14th, and the Williams of Sirotkin and Stroll a miserable 16th and 18th.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for American outfit Haas ahead of the other Renault of Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

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RBR principal Christian Horner said his team would need a miracle to get the vehicle out in time to qualify, but with three minutes left on the clock Ricciardo left the pit lane to set one flying lap.