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Norris delighted as ‘all or nothing’ final lap nets P1 during Sprint Qualifying in Shanghai

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 19: Sprint pole qualifier Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren

Lando Norris was full of smiles after setting the pace in an action-packed, rain-hit Sprint Qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix, with the McLaren driver producing a superb final lap to top the timesheets.

With rain falling towards the end of SQ2 and getting heavier in SQ3, the 10 remaining drivers splashed their way around the Shanghai International Circuit on intermediate tyres – producing a stream of improvements to the chequered flag.

READ MORE: Norris claims P1 ahead of Hamilton during frenetic wet Sprint Qualifying in China

But it was Norris who ultimately came out on top, clocking a 1m 57.940s that put him a staggering 1.2 seconds ahead of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso completing the top three.

Reflecting on the achievement post-session, Norris said: “I’m extremely happy, first of all. A big thanks to the whole team. It was tricky, you’re always nervous going into a session like this, especially for quali when you almost know it’s going to rain.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 19: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on

Norris mastered the tricky conditions that arrived at the Shanghai International Circuit

“I was quite happy with how it was in the dry, I think we’ve had good pace all weekend so far. I got a bit nervous. They’re conditions where you’ve just got to risk a lot, you’ve got to push, build tyre temperature and so forth.

“I was quick, I just kept catching a Ferrari, so I had to keep backing off. I didn’t do the first two laps well at all, but I got a good final one, a good enough one for pole. I’m happy… sad it’s not for a proper qualifying, but it’s good enough.”

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from Sprint Qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix

Pushed about the challenge of keeping tyre temperatures up and staying on the track, Norris continued: “You only have three laps. The first two I aborted on both, so I was like, ‘The last lap is all or nothing’. But it was getting wetter and wetter, so actually the conditions for the final two laps were a lot worse than the second lap.

“I was a little bit nervous that I’d made a few mistakes, started to aquaplane quite a bit, but it’s good fun – it gets your heart going. Getting up on top is exactly what we wanted, so a nice surprise and a good position for tomorrow.”

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 19: Sprint pole qualifier Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren

Norris was more than a second quicker than his nearest rival when the session concluded

As he prepares to start the 100km Sprint just ahead of the aforementioned Hamilton, Alonso and reigning world champion Max Verstappen, Norris admitted there are question marks over where everybody stands in race-trim after one practice session.

“I mean, we did some of our homework [in FP1] this morning, we did some consecutive laps to try and understand,” added Norris, whose team mate, Oscar Piastri, was three seconds and seven places back.

NEED TO KNOW: The most important facts, stats and trivia ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

“It depends what the weather is, there’s still a chance of rain tomorrow, so if it’s like this then I think the chances are relatively decent. But the race is still very different to qualifying, so I’m sure everyone’s going to catch up a bit tomorrow.

“But the pace is good whether it’s wet or dry, and I think we’re in a good position. A bit of a surprise, like I said, but I’m very happy, the team did a good job, the car’s feeling good and so am I, and it’s paying off.”

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