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POWER RANKINGS: Who impressed our judges on a dramatic Shanghai Sprint weekend?

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After five years off the calendar, China and the Shanghai International Circuit made a welcome return last weekend, playing host to an action-packed first Sprint event of the season. But which drivers impressed our Power Rankings judges over the three days of action? Scroll down to check out the latest scores.

How it works

  • Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

  • Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

READ MORE: Verstappen charges to victory over Norris and Perez in action-packed Chinese GP

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Lando Norris starred from the outset in China, brilliantly claiming pole position during a rain-hit Sprint Qualifying. While he ran wide on the first lap of the Sprint and dropped down the order, the Briton more than made up for it in the Grand Prix, where he turned fourth on the grid into a fine second between Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

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

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Verstappen had to settle for P4 in that dramatic Sprint Qualifying session, but the reigning world champion bounced back immediately by recovering to victory in the Sprint, bagging pole position for the Grand Prix and then dominating Sunday’s encounter – despite a host of incidents, Safety Cars and restarts threatening to derail his efforts.

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

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Fernando Alonso arrived in Shanghai off the back of signing a new deal with Aston Martin and the Spaniard was fired up throughout, securing P3 on the grid for both the Sprint and the Grand Prix. While his Sprint came undone after a clash with compatriot Carlos Sainz, the main event brought seventh place and some more points via a thrilling late charge through the field on an off-set strategy.

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

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Nico Hulkenberg has been a regular feature in the post-race Power Rankings so far this season and the Haas racer continued that trend with another strong performance last weekend, qualifying for and finishing the Grand Prix inside the top-10 places. It earned another valuable point for Haas as they look to put some breathing space between themselves and the yet-to-score Williams, Alpine and Kick Sauber.

FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen hits a hat trick of Sprint weekend doubles

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Charles Leclerc entered the China weekend aiming to get on terms with Sainz after his team mate’s impressive start to the season and, while he was out-qualified for the Sprint, the Monegasque confidently won the internal battle when it came to the 100km dash, qualifying for the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix itself – winding up ‘best of the rest’ behind the Red Bulls and the McLaren of Norris.

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

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Lewis Hamilton’s Sprint efforts aside, Mercedes faced a difficult weekend at the Shanghai venue, lacking pace relative to Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin in qualifying and the Grand Prix. George Russell led the team’s charge in the latter two outings, turning eighth on the grid into a solid sixth-place finish.

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

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Sainz started 2024 with a bang by scoring three podiums in the first three races he contested either side of surgery for appendicitis, including victory on his return to action at the Australian Grand Prix. He faced a more challenging weekend in China, though, clashing with Leclerc in the Sprint, spinning in qualifying and finishing behind his team mate in the Grand Prix.

MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: How an Alonso cameo helped Norris prevent a Red Bull 1-2 in China

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Perez has closed the gap to team mate Verstappen so far this season but remained a step behind across the fifth round of the campaign. He ended up third in the Sprint, behind Hamilton, and third in the Grand Prix, behind Norris, having been unable to overhaul the McLaren after losing out during the mid-race Safety Car periods.

READ MORE: Perez rues bad luck with Safety Car in China after missing out on P2 as he vows to fight back in Miami

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Daniel Ricciardo was another driver looking to make inroads after a tricky start to the season and delivered a much more assured display at a track he has enjoyed visiting in the past, out-performing RB team mate Yuki Tsunoda with a new chassis until being rear-ended by Lance Stroll while contending for points on race day.

READ MORE: ‘Wasn’t like it was a love tap’ – Frustrated Ricciardo gives verdict after race ‘ruined’ by crash with Stroll in China

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Williams are yet to get off the mark in 2024 and, despite Alex Albon’s best efforts last weekend, they remain rooted to the foot of the constructors’ standings alongside Alpine and Kick Sauber. Albon gave it his all in China, despite feeling “so on a knife-edge” behind the wheel, qualifying 14th and finishing 12th when it came to the Grand Prix – ending up just five seconds away from Hulkenberg and the reward of a point.

EXPLAINED: Why Ricciardo, Stroll, Sargeant and Magnussen were all penalised in China

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Valtteri Bottas displayed plenty of promise over the course of the Shanghai event, putting his Kick Sauber a high-flying ninth in the tricky conditions of Sprint Qualifying and making it through to Q3 a day later to secure 10th on the grid for the Grand Prix. But his bid to score points ended in disappointment when his engine gave up and forced him to pull off the track.

Missing out

Like Albon at Williams and Bottas at Kick Sauber, Esteban Ocon was also pushing to score his team’s first point of the season, the Alpine driver narrowly missing out on a top-10 spot after a battling drive, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Sprint star Hamilton also close to making the cut.

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

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