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5 Winners and 5 Losers from China – Who excelled as F1 returned to Shanghai?

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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Formula 1 returned to China for the first time since 2019, with a sell-out crowd at the Shanghai International cheering home favourite Zhou Guanyu’s every move. While he didn’t get the fairytale finish he dreamed of, there were others who were very happy with their weekend’s work. We pick out our winners and losers from the Chinese Grand Prix.

Winner: Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen delivered one of the most commanding performances of his career, as he secured his first Chinese Grand Prix victory and fourth in five Grands Prix so far this season.

The Red Bull racer – who showed ruthless pace that allowed him to build huge leads after the start and subsequent two Safety Car restarts – also won the Sprint, doing the double (Sprint and Grand Prix win) for the third successive Sprint weekend.

READ MORE: Verstappen hails ‘amazing’ weekend in China as he takes victory amid multiple restarts

The Dutchman has been beaten in a Grand Prix only twice (both by Carlos Sainz) in the last 357 days and now leads team mate Sergio Perez by 25 points in the drivers’ standings.

The march to a fourth successive title – which would pull him level with ex-Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel – is gathering pace.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

Verstappen grabbed his second victory of the weekend on Sunday

Loser: Daniel Ricciardo

This was so close to being a great weekend for Daniel Ricciardo, who had the measure of RB team mate Yuki Tsunoda for the first time this season.

The Australian outqualified Tsunoda for the first time in 2024 and bettered him in Sprint qualifying, too. He was set for his first points of the year before Lance Stroll smashed into the back of him, causing significant damage that forced his retirement.

To add yet more misery, he was handed a three-place grid drop for the next event – which will be applied in the Grand Prix in Miami – for overtaking Nico Hulkenberg under the Safety Car.

READ MORE: Norris thrilled with ‘surprise’ Chinese GP podium as he reveals pre-race Ferrari bet

Winner: Lando Norris

Lando Norris headed into the weekend expecting his McLaren to struggle at the Shanghai International Circuit, courtesy of its long duration corners.

However, he mastered wet conditions to take pole for the Sprint and then delivered one of the best drives of his career to take second in the Grand Prix, comfortably keeping the Red Bull of Perez at bay.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with

Norris managed to get the beating of one Red Bull in Shanghai

This was his eighth second place in F1 and seventh in the last 18 Grands Prix, while it gave McLaren their first podium in Shanghai since Jenson Button finished second in 2012.

Losers: Aston Martin

Aston Martin wasted a golden opportunity to squeeze more points out of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend and keep the pressure on Mercedes in the fight for P4 in the constructors’ championship.

Fernando Alonso fought hard inside the top-three in the Sprint, before he picked up a puncture for a collision with Carlos Sainz (he was blamed for the contact and handed a post-race 10-second time penalty) and ultimately retired.

READ MORE: Alonso reflects on ‘crazy race’ in China after nearly crashing while Stroll gives his take on penalty for ‘weird’ incident

On Sunday, the Safety Cars hurt his three-stop strategy, though he did fight back to take seventh and maintain his record of scoring in every single Grand Prix this season.

Team mate Stroll failed to score after crashing into Ricciardo, meaning he hasn’t finished in the top-10 in three of the five races so far this season.

2024 Chinese Grand Prix: Alonso catches huge snap to avoid late crash in Shanghai

Winner: Zhou Guanyu

Having waited more than two years, Zhou Guanyu finally got the chance to become the first Chinese driver to race in F1 on home soil.

While he didn’t score the points he so craved, the 24-year-old finished a strong ninth in the Sprint and a season’s best 14th in the Grand Prix.

He handled the weight of a nation with impressive maturity, fulfilling a relentless run of media, promotional and fan events for weeks leading up to the event and across the race weekend – and deftly managed to feed off the attention rather than let it weigh him down.

READ MORE: What the teams said – Race day in China

Losers: Ferrari

Not so long ago, fourth and fifth in the Grand Prix would have been considered a strong result for Ferrari – but the Prancing Horse have significantly upped their game of late and emerged as Red Bull’s closest challengers.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: 14th placed Zhou Guanyu of China and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Zhou gave the home fans something to cheer across the whole weekend

But in China they were no match for Red Bull and usurped by McLaren in terms of one-lap and race pace, with Charles Leclerc finishing fourth to continue his run of finishing inside the top-four at every race this year.

Carlos Sainz – who crashed in qualifying to put him on the back foot – secured his first-ever top-six finish in Shanghai but this was the first time he has failed to finish on the podium when he has started a Grand Prix this year.

READ MORE: Leclerc shares ‘big surprise’ that compromised his Chinese GP as Sainz says Ferrari ‘need to do better’

Winner: Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg continued his strong start to 2024 with a third points finish in the last four Grands Prix so far this season.

For context, the Haas driver only scored once across the entire 2023 campaign.

He sits 13th in the drivers’ standings, three points clear of team mate Kevin Magnussen – and in a season where every point will be crucial in the fight for P6 in the constructors’ championship, and where he’s hunting a new deal for next season, every score could be significant.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari leads

Hulkenberg scored a valuable point in China

Losers: Kick Sauber

Kick Sauber have been threatening to score points for a couple of races now and put themselves in a decent spot to do so in the Sprint with ninth and 10th on the grid – but they couldn’t fight into the top-eight to score.

Come race day, Valtteri Bottas started inside the top-10 and was in the hunt to score when an engine issue forced his retirement.

While they have yet to score like rivals Williams and Alpine, they sit bottom of the constructors’ championship as their best result so far is the poorest of the trio.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Chinese Grand Prix as Verstappen takes victory while Safety Car sparks dramatic restart

Winners: Alpine

It might seem odd to see Alpine in the winner’s section given they failed to score points – but the Chinese Grand Prix was noteworthy as it was the first race this year where they managed to finish on the lead lap.

Esteban Ocon’s 11th-place was his and the team’s best result of the season and proof that the team – who brought a new floor to Shanghai – are clawing their way back into the midfield.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 waves to the crowd on the drivers

Ocon grabbed his best result of the season in Shanghai

Losers: Mercedes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said P6 and P9 was the best prediction from their pre-race simulations and that’s what George Russell and Lewis Hamilton managed to achieve – but this is well below what a team of this stature aspires to.

Russell came home sixth, meaning Mercedes finish outside the top-five in Shanghai for the first time ever – and it is the first time since 2011 that they haven’t finished fourth or higher at least once in the first five races.

READ MORE: Hamilton ‘grateful just to get points’ in China as Russell admits Mercedes have ‘work to do’ before Miami

Hamilton, meanwhile, fought back well to score points in ninth from 18th on the grid – and this was the third time in five races he’s ended up in that lowly position.

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