Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas topped the timing screens at the end of the first day of free practice of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, Round 3 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Shanghai International Circuit.

Bottas set a best lap of 1:33.330 which was enough to keep him top of the timing screens at the end of FP2, a couple of hundredths faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen third quickest, two tenths down on the top time and suggesting a threeway team battle for top honours on Sunday.

It was not all good news for Verstappen as late in the session he reported that “something is not right” while suggesting over the radio a problem with his clutch.

Lewis Hamilton survived a spin to set the fourth fastest time, seven-tenths down on his teammate at the top of the timesheets. However, it should be noted the reigning F1 World Champion was baulked during his hot lap when Romain Grosjean’s Haas parted company with its front wing.

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Amid ongoing debate about the Formula 1 versus Formula E, Venturi team owner Susie Wolff believes the two single-seater series can exist side-by-side as the ethos of each series is vastly different as are the budgets.

It would be fair to assume that the wife of Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff will know a thing or two about where the marque is going with their motorsport programme, while her own experience as an owner offers an interesting insight into the great debate.

In her column for the Financial Times, Wolff wrote, “Since arriving in Formula E last year, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is: Will Formula E ever replace Formula One? The short answer, in my view, is no. More to the point, nor should it: the two series are so very different.”

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Although the panic button has not been pressed yet, the future of Formula 1 at Monza depends largely on the approval of local government funding and whether the ACI can raise the €100-million required to refurbish the legendary venue.

Like Monaco, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, Monza is one of the most iconic races on the calendar, one of the Majors if there were such a thing in F1. Known as the Temple of Speed, it is also the home of Ferrari – the sport’s most famous team.

Autosprint reported last March, that Bill 1150 was filed in the Senate seeking allocation of a contribution from the Government to the ACI of €10-million per year from 2020 to 2025, to support the costs of organisation and management of the Grand Prix. However, this still needs to be ratified.

Speaking to reporters at Expomove in Florence, ACI president Angelo Sticchi Damiani gave an update on the situation as contract time with F1 looms, “We have said on several occasions that Monza circuit needs important works and that today the estimate is around €100 million, with €6

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Red Bull newbie Pierre Gasly will struggle to match teammate Max Verstappen this year because the team is built around the Dutchman, according to F1 World Champion turned pundit Jacques Villeneuve.

Gasly is struggling with his confidence and form as he tries to adapt to the senior team and the RB15 chassis which by all accounts is a tricky piece of kit

Speaking to RacingNews365, Villeneuve declared, “Red Bull is built around Verstappen, so Gasly has no chance of beating Max this season. In addition, Gasly was not very impressive last year and was inconsistent.”

“This year, the pressure seems too much for him. He is going to a team…

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