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Verstappen revels in ‘incredible’ 100th pole for Red Bull as Perez insists he can fight team mate for Shanghai victory

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle

Max Verstappen was the man in form at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday as he swept to victory in the Sprint race before securing pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix with an emphatic qualifying display.

Verstappen clocked a best time of 1m 33.660s in the decisive Q3 phase to finish a couple of tenths clear of Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso a tenth-and-a-half further back in third.

READ MORE: Verstappen seals pole position for Chinese Grand Prix as he heads Perez and Alonso

It gave Red Bull the 100th pole position in their F1 history, 37 having been claimed by the Dutchman, along with 44 by Sebastian Vettel, 13 by Mark Webber, three by Perez and three by Daniel Ricciardo.

Verstappen also became the first driver since Mika Hakkinen in 1999 to start a campaign with five successive pole positions, as he continues his push for what would be a fourth world title on the bounce.

Discussing those achievements, Verstappen said: “Before I jumped in the car Christian [Horner, Red Bull team boss] told me if you get pole today it could be number 100 for the team, so I was like, ‘Okay, that’s nice, I’ll try and give it a good go’.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

“Of course that’s an incredible achievement for the whole team. Also a big contribution from Seb back in the day! But it’s fantastic also to have the one-two in qualifying, it showed that the car is again working really well.

“From my side it’s been a really good start to the year and I feel probably very confident in qualifying, even compared to last year. It’s just a shame of course that we retired in Melbourne otherwise I think we could have had already a very strong lead, but overall it’s still a great start.”

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix

As for how his day and qualifying session unfolded, Verstappen added: “I think after the Sprint race it gave us a few more ideas for the car. I think the car worked even better in qualifying now.

“I’m definitely very happy with how the whole of qualifying went, the car was really nice to drive. Also in Q3 I think that final lap felt pretty decent. I’m also very happy to drive here in the dry, the conditions were pretty good, so it was a lot of fun.”

Perez, meanwhile, was happy just to be involved in the pole position shootout after hitting traffic in the form of Alex Albon’s Williams during Q1 and being forced to go for another run to make the Q2 cut.

2024 Chinese GP Qualifying: Perez complains Albon blocked him in Q1

“It was very intense,” he said after the session. “I nearly got knocked out in Q1. I had traffic with one of the Williams [cars], I had to abort my lap and came back on hot, used tyres and just made it through in P15. It was just a very messy start to qualifying.

“Q2 was a little bit more straightforward, I could really get a read into the balance, and we were making some nice progress through the session. Unfortunately in the end it was just not enough to get Max.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the Sprint drama as Verstappen takes victory ahead of Hamilton and Perez in Shanghai

“Overall it’s a tremendous team result, because the track has changed a lot. We changed a lot the car as well to adapt to the conditions, so hopefully that will also pay out tomorrow.”

Pushed on how confident he is of challenging Verstappen in the race, Perez added: “I think it’s everything to play for tomorrow. We can be fighting from there and we can definitely have a strong [race] with him. We showed today that we have a fairly good pace in the long runs, so I look forward for tomorrow.”

Verstappen heads into the 56-lap encounter with a 15-point advantage over Perez in the drivers’ standings, while Red Bull sit 26 points ahead of nearest rivals Ferrari in the constructors’ battle.

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