Valtteri Bottas grabs pole position at #ChineseGP, Lewis Hamilton second

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The four-time world champion took third behind the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and victor Lewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix, the 1,000th race in Formula One.

But Hamilton's superb lights-to-flag victory was overshadowed by the intra-team politics which threatens to destabilise Ferrari's season.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc defied team orders to stay behind teammate Sebastian Vettel in the early stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 31, causing potentially huge problems for the team.For.

Polesitter Bottas made a good initial getaway, but wheelspin during the acceleration phase cost him valuable momentum and allowed Lewis Hamilton to sneak ahead on the run to the first corner.

In China it was no different with Leclerc in third the team ordered him to let Sebastian Vettel through, he reluctantly obliged and he finished fifth, another desperately disappointing set of circumstances for the Monegasque.

The Brit got the better of pole position and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the green light, never giving up his lead.

On lap 11, Ferrari delivered their answer.

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It was a tactical decision by the Italian manufacturers to try and catch Mercedes.

The new Ferrari driver was clearly not happy, though, saying on the radio: "I'm pulling away".

Despite his own disappointment, Bottas said Mercedes could be "really proud" of its start to the season, after claiming its third consecutive one-two finish.

"I am losing quite a lot of time", said Leclerc. "Not completely how I want it", he told Sky Sports F1.

Vettel was given the hurry-up message.

But despite a positive day for the team that saw them mix it with the potent Ferraris, Verstappen admitted that there was still more work to be done by Red Bull and their Honda power unit providers if they wanted to fight consistently at the front of the field this season. He was called in on the following lap for new tyres, and emerged just ahead of the Red Bull auto.

Again, Ferrari had to respond with Vettel - and Mercedes then also did to secure Hamilton and Bottas' positions - and again Leclerc was the loser.

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Vettel ended up finishing third with Leclerc down in fifth. Yet after a fearless, but fruitless defence against Bottas, before Vettel sailed by, Ferrari pulled him in with 14 laps to run.

"It's certainly, I wouldn't say explosive, but it's an interesting constellation to have the two Mercedes in front that are very much keen each of them to win - it's about the championship - and then behind you have the battle of the generations with the red ones and Max [Verstappen], who will be keen to recover".

It was his sixth win here and 75th in all.

With the frontrunners on two-stop strategies in Shanghai, Mercedes executed back-to-back pit stops for their two drivers in fluid fashion to effectively seal their places at the head of the race.

Elsewhere, British teenager Lando Norris retired after a dramatic first-lap collision.

The Russian was penalised with a drive-through penalty.

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