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

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Max Verstappen has continued his strong run of form after clinching a dominant pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix, taking Red Bull’s 100th pole in their history.

The Dutchman set the pace throughout the session at the Shanghai International Circuit and improved further in Q3, setting an unbeaten time of 1m 33.660s. While an exciting battle ensued for P2, it was Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez who took the position.

Fernando Alonso put his Aston Martin in third, ahead of the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, while Charles Leclerc followed in sixth.

Carlos Sainz recovered from an earlier incident in Q2 – having spun into the barriers, bringing out the red flags in the process – to finish the session in P7, with George Russell the lead Mercedes in P8. Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10 in ninth and 10th respectively.

China 2024

Qualifying results

PositionTeam NameTime
1VER1:33.660
2PER1:33.982
3ALO1:34.148
4NOR1:34.165
5PIA1:34.273
View Full Results

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was eliminated in P11 after Bottas improved to get into the top 10, with the RB of Daniel Ricciardo suffering the same fate in P12.

Despite both getting into Q2 for the first time this season, the Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly ended up in P13 and P15 respectively, while the Williams of Alex Albon was sandwiched between them in P14.

There was a shock in Q1 as Lewis Hamilton found himself pushed into the drop zone, ending the session in P18. Zhou Guanyu was another name to exit early on in P16, with the Kick Sauber driver struggling for grip in front of his home fans.

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen found himself out in P17, while RB’s Yuki Tsunoda suffered a disappointing qualifying in P19 and Logan Sargeant ended the session in 20th and last for Williams.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

AS IT HAPPENED

Q1 – Verstappen sets the pace while Hamilton makes shock exit

After an action-packed Sprint race earlier in the day, all eyes turned to Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session in Shanghai to set the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.

A queue had already formed in the pit lane ahead of the lights turning green for Q1 at 1500 local time, with drivers keen to hit the circuit and check any set-up changes that had been made following the Sprint.

Hulkenberg was noted by the stewards after seemingly battling to get into the queue – with the incident set to be investigated after the session – while, out on track, the majority of the field were keen to put some early laps in. Everybody had opted for the soft tyre, barring Sainz who was running a set of used mediums.

As the session wore on, Perez voiced his frustration over team radio after encountering a slower-moving Albon on track, forcing the Mexican to take evading action. This incident was also noted by the stewards.

Halfway through Q1, Piastri put himself at the top of the timesheets before being displaced by Sainz, with the Ferrari having switched back to the soft compound. Meanwhile Piastri’s team mate Norris was amongst the drivers at risk in the drop zone as the minutes ticked down.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 19: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas  during Sprint Qualifying ahead of

Hulkenberg will be investigated after the session for a pit lane incident

Ricciardo also found himself at threat of elimination, having reported seeing smoke coming from his brakes, while Perez needed to put a flying lap in to remove himself from the bottom five. The Red Bull driver subsequently climbed up into the top 10, as did Norris by going fastest of all.

The track became busy as everybody hit the track to set their final laps, and Verstappen placed himself at the top of the timesheets in P1. Zhou initially managed to get himself out of danger, sparking cheers from the crowd, but Hamilton could only set the 12th quickest time as the order continued to change.

With other faster laps coming in – including from Gasly, who managed to escape Q1 for the first time this season – Hamilton found himself pushed down the order and ended the session down in P18. Zhou was also unable to hold onto his position and exited in P16.

Magnussen, Tsunoda and Sargeant – who suffered a spin in the final moments of Q1 – were the other names eliminated in 17th, 19th and 20th respectively.

Knocked out: Zhou, Magnussen, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Sargeant

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas

Hamilton made a surprise exit from Q1, ending the session in P18

Q2 – Sainz bounces back after bringing out red flags

The 15 remaining drivers returned to the track for Q2, with another queue forming in the pit lane. Leclerc shared his frustration over this on team radio as everybody tried to build a gap for themselves before hitting the circuit.

As the initial laps came in, Verstappen threw down the gauntlet by putting himself half a second clear of Norris at the front. There was drama soon afterwards, though, when Sainz suffered a spin out of the final corner, resulting in his Ferrari making contact with the barriers.

The red flags were thrown to bring a pause to proceedings. Sainz was able to get his car restarted and make his way back to the pit lane, allowing the mechanics to assess the damage to his SF-24.

Six minutes were left on the clock when Q2 was resumed at 1545 local time. Russell was keen to hit the track, having failed to set a time prior to the session stoppage, and the Mercedes man slotted into third before traffic began to build on the circuit, with Verstappen still in P1.

In the final minutes, Sainz was able to rejoin the action after repairs to his front wing and subsequently went up to P3. Bottas, meanwhile, impressively hauled himself into P10, pushing Stroll out in P11.

Ricciardo also exited in 12th, while the Alpine pair of Ocon and Gasly ended the session in 13th and 15th, with the Williams of Albon between them in 14th.

Knocked out: Stroll, Ricciardo, Ocon, Albon, Gasly

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari in the gravel after crashing his

Sainz's contact with the barriers brought out the red flags in Q2

Q3 – Verstappen surges to pole amid close battle for P2

Hulkenberg led the pack out as Q3 began, with much of the field hitting the track on fresh rubber while Hulkenberg and Russell opted for used.

During the initial runs, Verstappen was on provisional pole with a time of 1m 33.977s – three tenths ahead of Alonso in second – while Perez was a further tenth back in third. Elsewhere Piastri suffered a big moment in the final corner, but managed to avoid repeating Sainz’s earlier contact with the barriers.

Attentions then turned to the final flying laps, with Bottas joining the fray in his first Q3 session of 2024. The wind looked to have increased as the drivers tried to improve on their earlier laps, but could anybody displace Verstappen?

The Dutchman improved to a 1m 33.660s and, while this remained unbeaten, a thrilling battle for P2 ensued. It was ultimately Perez who came out on top, ahead of Alonso in third, Norris in fourth and Piastri rounding out the top five.

Leclerc led team mate Sainz, with the Ferrari pair set to start from P6 and P7 after appearing to struggle for pace, while Russell went eighth fastest for Mercedes. Hulkenberg was ninth for Haas, with the Kick Sauber of Bottas ending the day in 10th place.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on

Verstappen will start from pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix, marking Red Bull's 100th pole in their history

Key quote

"I think after the Sprint race it gave us a few more ideas for the car," said pole-sitter Verstappen. "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."

What's next

The 2024 Chinese Grand Prix is set to begin at 1500 local time on Sunday. Head to the RACE HUB to find out how you can catch the action from the Shanghai International Circuit.

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