F1 Chinese GP: Stroll to start 16th


Lance Stroll had a pretty Good Friday practice as he edged out his teammate Sergio Perez in both practices. Things were a little different on Saturday morning as Perez finished ahead of Lance by 0.145s.

Ahead of qualifying Stroll had some optimism: “We completed a good amount of running today, collecting all the usual Friday data. I had a lot of traffic around me through both sessions on the short and long runs. It’s frustrating when that happens but I think everyone was dealing with traffic out there. It’s always very busy here going into the last corner and finding a gap is not easy. It’s competitive in the midfield, but I think we’re in the mix. There are quite a few positions covered by a few tenths but it’s not until Saturday that we’ll see everyone’s true colours. I’d like to think we can be fighting for a place in the top ten, but we need to get everything just right.”

As Lance mentioned, it was again going to be very tight in the mid-field for a place in Q2. Unfortunately for him, he was short by 0.144s to 15th place Lando Norris. Sergio Perez made it into Q2 finishing in 12th place with a time of 1:34.026, 0.266s quicker than teammate Stroll.

Following qualifying SportPesa Racing Point will start the race with Lance Stroll in 16th place and Sergio Perez in 12th.

Not happy at all with his performance today, Lance is looking ahead to tomorrow’s race as he usually gains position at the start. “A frustrating session. I don’t feel I got as much out of it as I should, so it could definitely have been better. I’m not quite getting to grips with the car 100% yet and I made some mistakes on my lap, which cost us a couple of tenths and, in the end, that’s all it takes. It’s very, very tight in the midfield and every tenth counts. My race pace is generally pretty good and I believe we can be stronger tomorrow, but when it comes to Saturdays we need to sort a few things out to really unlock that extra bit of performance. We started sixteenth in Australia and finished ninth, so there’s no reason why we can’t do the same thing here. It’s a long race, I generally make good starts, and you can score points from wherever you start on the grid, so that’s what I’m aiming to do tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez was satisfied with his grid spot missing out on Q3 by very little: “P12 is a good result – we were less than a tenth away from making Q3 so I feel quite happy with our performance considering our speed in practice. With a perfect lap we could have made the top ten, but the windy conditions made it tricky out there today. The midfield is so tight and if you don’t have a perfect lap, you can miss out. I would have preferred to be P11, but we are in a nice position. There is a question mark as to whether the soft or medium tyre is the best, but we will evaluate the data with the engineers this evening and make our decision. We have free tyre choice for the start and, with a good strategy, I think we can make up some ground tomorrow and aim for points.”

Andrew Green sums up the qualifying effort: “The changes we made overnight took us in a better direction this morning, but track time was limited with final practice being cut short. Lance didn’t have a particularly clean lap in Q1 and just missed out on making it through to Q2. As we saw in Melbourne and Bahrain, a tenth here and there can have a big impact on your your starting position. Sergio progressed smoothly to Q2 and will line up in P12 tomorrow, which opens up some nice strategy options. Scoring points won’t be easy, but I think we can race intelligently and bring ourselves into contention.”

Starting Grid:

 1- Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 1’31.547

2- Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 1’31.570

 3- Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 1’31.848

4- Charles Leclerc  Ferrari Ferrari 1’31.865

5- Max Verstappen  Red Bull Honda 1’32.089

6- Pierre Gasly  Red Bull Honda 1’32.930

7- Daniel Ricciardo  Renault Renault 1’32.958

8- Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 1’32.962

9- Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari No Time

10- Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari No Time

11- Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Honda 1’33.236

12- Sergio Perez  Racing Point Mercedes 1’33.299

13- Kimi Raikkonen  Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1’33.419

14- Carlos Sainz Jr.  McLaren Renault 1’33.523

15- Lando Norris  McLaren Renault 1’33.967

16- Lance Stroll  Racing Point Mercedes 1’34.292

17- George Russell  Williams Mercedes 1’35.253

18- Robert Kubica  Williams Mercedes 1’35.281

19- Antonio Giovinazzi  Alfa Romeo Ferrari No Time

20-Alex Albon Torro Rosso Honda No Time

Images: SporPesa Racing Point

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