Valtteri Bottas says he feels confident going into the Chinese Grand Prix having claimed pole position and despite having a strong opportunity to extend his early Formula 1 world championship lead he isn’t keen thinking too far ahead.

Bottas has claimed his seventh career F1 pole position at the 1000th World Championship Grand Prix, and his first since last year’s Russian round, by beating Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.023s with his final flying lap.

Having looked dominant in final practice and overhauling Hamilton’s slender advantage after the first flying laps in Q3, the Finn says he’s feeling confident and in sync with his Mercedes 2019 F1 car but won’t be looking too far ahead of tomorrow’s race in Shanghai.

“Confidence wise I’m good, thanks for asking, it has been a good start of the year,” Bottas said. “First of all for me personally, but also for us as a team, it has been optimum but it’s only the beginning of the year.

“I feel confident, today it was a good day today, hopefully tomorrow will be again, but it’s a long season ahead.

“It’s been a good weekend so far for me, starting from pole position. I felt already really confident this morning, in FP3. In the qualifying, I honestly struggled a bit in Q3 to get the perfect lap, but it was good enough.”

Assessing the pace between the top three teams, Bottas is hesitant to make firm predictions and is expecting tough challenges from both his teammate and the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

“Looking from Friday, it has been pretty close between the top three teams,” he said. “There are many question marks, but today it’s encouraging, so we’ll go for it.”

Bottas leads the early F1 Drivers’ World Championship by a single point ahead of Hamilton, with both Mercedes drivers sharing identical results from the opening two rounds while the Finn holds an extra point from setting the fastest lap in Australia.

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