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Chinese GP Sprint: Verstappen makes amends and dominates

Chinese GP Sprint: Verstappen restores order, beats Hamilton

Chinese GP Sprint: Verstappen makes amends and dominates

Max Verstappen took a dominant win for the first Formula 1 Sprint Race in 2024 recovering from a disappointing qualifying one day earlier.

An angry Max is a dangerous Max!! Indeed as the Red Bull ace who overtook Hamilton for the lead on lap 9/19, went on the pull out a 13-second-gap in only ten laps!!

It was a day of disappointment for McLaren and Lando Norris who lost the lead after an opening lap tussle with Lewis Hamilton, the McLaren driver going off track and dropping to seventh. He could not recover after that.

Hamilton fancies a Sprint win as he took the lead and could keep Fernando Alonso behind him, but Verstappen was coming through the pack like a knife goes through butter.

Halfway through, Verstappen took the lead from his former Title rival – who had to settle for second – and was off into the distance as Alonso dropped and lost out in a tussle with Carlos Sainz, getting a puncture and retiring from the Sprint.

Sergio Perez made the best out of the fights in front of him, as Alonso and Sainz were busy fighting, he overtook both to take third.

Charles Leclerc took fourth place for Ferrari followed by teammate Sainz in fifth, the pair having a tough fight towards the end that left he Monegasque unamused accusing the Spaniard of “fighting him more than the others”.

Norris had to settle for sixth after a disappointing start of the day for him and McLaren. He was followed by Oscar Piastri in seventh.

George Russell finished eighth, bagging the final point after starting from 11th beat local hero Zhou Guanyu who could not score.

What the top three said

After a dominant performance, Verstappen said in Parc Ferme: “The first few laps were hectic! The wind is changing a lot which makes it difficult to drive.

“[Battery issues] were only the first few laps, once we sorted it out we were okay,” he added.

Hamilton commented on his second place finish, he said: “That’s the best result I’ve had in a long time, so I’m super happy and grateful.

“We couldn’t fight the Red Bulls, the race was tough but I found out a lot about the car through this short stint so I’m excited for the race tomorrow.

“We are still not as quick over a single lap – I don’t anticipate we’ll be fighting for the front row,” the Mercedes driver concluded.

After some opportunistic driver, third-placed Perez said: “It was really difficult to get through Carlos and Fernando, we all had high degradation following each other and I was defending from Charles through Turn 14 but somehow I got through.”

How the Sprint unraveled

Unlike the rainy conditions that rule the Sprint Qualifying, it was dry as the cars line up on the grid for the Sprint Race, track temperatures at 27 degrees Celsius, the air temperature at 20 degrees.

The Mediums were the tyre of choice for all the drivers (some used) except for Russell who is gambling on the Softs hoping he can make some positions at the start.

Norris and Hamilton on the front row had a brand new set of Mediums bolted to their cars.

An aggressive start saw Hamilton attack Norris who went off and dropped down to seventh as Alonso jumped to second, Verstappen to third.

Soon Sainz was on the attack, trying to challenge Verstappen for third, Leclerc chasing Perez with the McLarens in pursuit.

While Russell was hoping to make some positions starting on the Softs, he dropped was position to 12th, with Zhou making up one position to ninth, Magnussen into tenth, Bottas dropping to 11th.

Lap 3/19 and Sainz is not giving up keeping Verstappen under pressure who was over a second behind the top two while Alonso was within DRS to Hamilton.

Verstappen radioed: “Why is my battery flat?” His engineer advised him to switch to “mode 8”.

Lap 4/19, Russell make progress and overtakes Magnussen and enters the top ten, his Soft tyres still hanging on for now.

Mode 8 seemed to work magic for Verstappen as he soon was the fastest man on track and was back in the fight starting to reduce that gap to Alonso and Hamilton and pulling away from Sainz.

Lap 5/19 and Sainz became under pressure from Perez in fifth, while Leclerc was within DRS of the Mexican.

Lap 7/19, and Verstappen is only 0.587s behind Alonso and the fight for second place was on, the triple F1 Champion adamant on making amends after his disappointing qualifying.

It doesn’t take much effort and the Dutchman clears the Spaniard and sets off chasing Hamilton who complained about his car: “This thing won’t turn in the slow speed.”

Behind the top three there was a DRS train led by Sainz following by Perez – Leclerc – Norris – Piastri – Zhou – Russell.

Lap 9/19 and Hamilton makes a mistake, locks up, and Verstappen is now less than half a second behind and can now smell blood.

Hamilton’s engineers offers some information the Briton answering: “Leave me to it man!” but there was nothing he could do as the #1 Red Bull soon breezes by by the end of the lap.

Lap 10/19 and the order is: Verstappen – Hamilton – Alonso – Sainz – Perez – Leclerc – Norris – Piastri – Zhou – Russell.

Verstappen soon pulls out a gap over Hamilton and puts himself out of DRS threat, over two second clear of the seven-time F1 Champion.

Alonso in the meantime is having to fend off his compatriot Sainz who is within DRS and chasing hard for third.

Lap 12/19, Sainz locks up and has to look in his mirrors now for Perez with Alonso getting a bit of a breathing space.

Lap 13/19 and the tussle between Perez and Sainz gets interesting, both having DRS but the Red Bull having a pace advantage.

Lap 14/19 and Leclerc reports a power issue. He said: “I have some derating.” But soon Leclerc gets closer to Perez, Norris also getting into DRS range of the #16 Ferrari.

Lap 15/19 and Perez reports: “I don’t have any traction.” Being in that DRS train is not helping.

Lap 16/19 and Sainz goes back to chasing Alonso, while Perez is working hard to fend off Leclerc.

After a monumental defense from Alonso, Perez takes advantage and overtakes both of them for third, then Sainz overtake Alonso for fourth who is soon overtaken by Leclerc.

Alonso immediately pits, he has a puncture after contact with Sainz, his Sprint is over. Leclerc overtakes Sainz.

Lap 17/19 and the order is: Verstappen – Hamilton – Perez – Leclerc – Sainz – Norris – Piastri – Russell.

Lap 18/19 and the Ferrari duo were fighting each other, Leclerc clearly not happy with his teammate who pushed him at the hairpin, he radios: “What the f@ck?”

In the end, Verstappen took the flag 13s ahead of Hamilton in second and ahead Perez in third.

Chinese GP Sprint Results

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