Chinese Grand Prix F1 LIVE updates: Lewis Hamilton starts behind Bottas in 1000th race

6.15am: As mentioned earlier, this is the 1,000th race in the history of the Formula 1 World Championship. 

The sport has been milking the milestone it’s fair to say, with drivers wearing one-off special helmets and the ‘F1 1000’ logo just about everywhere around the circuit.

The drivers didn’t seem to care much in yesterday’s post-qualifying press conference though. 

Hamilton said: “For me it’s not really much of a moment. It’s just another race. We’re here to win. It’s great for the sport.”

Bottas had a similar train of thought, explaining: “Yeah, here to focus on myself, our team’s job and try to do the best job we can. In the end it’s only numbers but obviously it’s a big one, so congrats to F1.”

And Vettel’s response was likewise.

He declared: “Well, it’s not up to us, obviously. It’s a bit more colourful than other races but I think inside the car and for the result itself, it makes no difference.”

6.00am: Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, is hopeful that the Ferraris can make up for their slowness into the corners with their superior straight-line speed.

Practice and qualifying in China has shown that the Prancing Horse are quicker than Mercedes down the straights but lose time into the corners, where the Silver Arrows have gained an advantage.

Vettel laughed: “They are bloody quick in the corners!

“For us, obviously when we get close I think we have an advantage in a straight line so maybe we can do something there.

“But the race is long and we’ll take it from there, but it should be a good day.”

5.45am: Hamilton is a five-time champion at the Shanghai International Circuit but he admitted himself yesterday he has struggled to eke the same performance out of his car this year and last compared to previous seasons.

But he was still pleased with how the Silver Arrows go into today’s race.

He said after qualifying: “Big congratulations to Valtteri, he’s been stellar all weekend. I’ve been struggling and fighting the car all weekend. We’ve been chipping away at it and I’m much, much happier.

“You know, it was eight tenths at once stage, the gap between us, so to be as close as we are at the end is fantastic. This is an incredible result for the team. There was a little bit more time left on the table there, but that’s cool, I’ll try and get it tomorrow.”

5.35am: While his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton has struggled for pace all weekend, Bottas has been on strong form and ended 0.023 seconds quicker than world champion Hamilton – who at least improved in qualifying. 

The Merc of Hamilton was 0.301secs in front of third-placed Sebastian Vettel as Ferrari locked out the second row with Charles Leclerc 0.017secs behind the German.

In some nice symmetry, the third row is all Red Bull with Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly but neither of the pair completed a lap in the final qualifying session due to the traffic on track.

5.30am: Hello, good morning and welcome to Express Sport’s live commentary of the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix.

It’s another early one from Shanghai with lights out set for 7.10am.

This is the third race of the season with Valtteri Bottas leading the 2019 drivers’ championship by a single point after Australia and Bahrain.

The Finn starts on pole today, but can he be the one to go down in history as the man to win the 1,000th Formula One race? 

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