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What the teams said – Race day in China

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Red Bull

Verstappen led from pole and built a commanding gap to the cars behind in the early stages. He only ceded the lead during the first pit stops, and then survived two restarts with ease to record his 22st victory in the last 23 races to extend his championship lead. As for Perez, he lost out at the start but soon climbed back to second. But he unluckily pitted before the VSC and Safety Car periods, which cost him two places. He managed to get one back, but ran out of tyres to fight back past Norris late on.

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

Max Verstappen, 1st

“I think today went really well and I was very happy with everything, we had great pace in the whole race although of course with the deployment of the safety car, the gap that I had made was shortened and we then had to gain that back. Today the car was very well balanced, every time that we needed to be quick we were and it felt much more consistent to drive in comparison to the Sprint, even for the restarts and overall I am really pleased with the performance that we had as a team. Every race is different in terms of emotions, this one was particularly enjoyable because the whole weekend went so well, especially considering that it was a Sprint weekend which is always much more hectic. A weekend like this is as much as you can ever hope for. A win in Shanghai was definitely on my list, to be here and to win in front of such an amazing crowd is very special and I am pleased that the race is back on the calendar."

Sergio Perez, 3rd

“The safety car cost us a little today, it would have been close but unfortunately it came at the wrong time for us and put us on the back foot and we lost two places. Fighting with Charles damaged my tyres a little too much and it made it hard. The level of degradation was a little too trying on this track to make better progress, so we struggled. I wanted more today, I did expect a little more from the race, the Sprint looked very promising but today we were not able to capitalise on that. We made some changes that potentially took away some of our performance. We will review those for Miami to make sure we keep this progression going to keep these better weekends. We are having a lot stronger weekends and it’s just a matter of now being able to lead from lap one and do our own race, hopefully that will come soon."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

"It was a phenomenal weekend for the Team, 117 wins and 15 years since our first victory here marks a very big moment for us and one I am very proud of on a personal level. We are very happy with the progress. Max has just been fantastic, all season long and again with Checo on the podium sums up a great all round performance. We were on an aggressive two stop and we were a little unlucky with the safety car which played into Lando and Charles favour, but that's the way it goes sometimes. So they got a free stop and were able to jump Checo on track. He managed to pass Charles but unfortunately, he didn’t have enough to catch Lando. Maybe we took a bit too much out tyres early on, but it was a great drive by both drivers and a great race by the whole Team. The pit crew were on their game today with the double stack and that is a measure of the tone set by the Team in general, everyone continues to fire on all cylinders both here and back at home in Milton Keynes. I would also like to thank Exxon Mobil for their continued support and congratulate them on 50 years of Mobil 1. We literally would not be able to get out of the gate without them!"

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Max Verstappen of Oracle Red Bull Racing and The Netherlands celebrates finishing in first position in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris seemed keen to atone for yesterday’s Sprint, and he did so in style. A good start saw him lead briefly through the first pit stop period, and being able to extend that opening section of the race wound up proving crucial as he was able to pit under the VSC. That jumped him up to second and that is where he stayed, pumping in quick laps when it mattered to ensure Perez couldn’t close up behind. Piastri didn’t have his team mate’s pace today, and his afternoon was made harder by damage sustained when Stroll hit Ricciardo, who clipped the back of the McLaren. He still made it home in the points for the team.

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

Lando Norris, 2nd

“I am very happy for the whole team today, they deserved it so big thanks to them. Our pit stops were solid and the car felt great today. I really wasn’t expecting it to be the kind of race where we would perform like this, but I was comfortable, we could manage the tyres far easier than yesterday and push. Good day, good points and another podium - I’m very happy. It’s a pleasant surprise but it shows the team have done a good job. We’re working hard and it’s paying off.”

Oscar Piastri, 8th

“It was a difficult afternoon for me. I struggled a little bit in the first stint and then, on the Safety Car restart, I got hit from behind which caused a lot of damage and made the second half of the race pretty painful. It was good to still score some points and get Lando on the podium, so we come away from China with positives, and now look forward to Miami.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“We expected this weekend in China to be a case of damage limitation but, in reality, it proved to be our strongest weekend of the season so far. Pole Position in the Sprint, a strong qualifying performance ahead of the grand prix and then, today, a podium for Lando – and a podium on merit. It’s a great credit to the hard work put in by the drivers, the team trackside, at the factory and everyone at HPP, and a nice reward for us, our partners and our fans. I’m very happy for everyone involved.

“On Oscar’s side, the damage he received during the race robbed him of downforce and meant it was impossible to fight for higher positions – but he drove really well, adapting to the changed balance of the car, and did a good job to add points to our tally.

“It feels good to have a result like this. A big thank you to everyone involved – now we need to keep improving and working hard to have more days like this. The only way to do that is to improve the car. Bring on Miami.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari

Both Ferraris were slow off the line and dropped a couple of places. That rather set the tone for their race, with neither having the pace to catch up to a runaway Norris ahead. They were debating between the one and two stop strategies early on before the timing of the Safety Cars made those decisions for them. Leclerc seemed to have the edge on his team mate and came close to a podium, jumping Perez under the Safety Car but unable to keep the Red Bull behind in the final stint. As for Sainz, he did some tyre whispering to eke the lifespan of his older hard rubber out until the flag.

Charles Leclerc, 4th

"We’re not completely satisfied with our result as a team today. We have two things to focus on leaving Shanghai, one is our qualifying trim and the other our pace on the Hards, which was our main challenge today. Our strategy and performance were strong until the Safety Car, but after that we were all on the same strategy and it was a bit more difficult for us to get back to speed on the Hard tyres.

"What will be essential is the upcoming upgrades, as they will define the direction we will take for the next part of the season."

Carlos Sainz, 5th

"A tough race on a challenging track for us this weekend. The first few corners were far from ideal and with the traffic we decided to pit early to switch to the Hard tyres. Some laps later, under the Safety Car, we stayed out on that tyre and went to the end to finish fifth.

"In any case, overall we struggled more than expected and the result today is not what we wanted. We will review everything before going to Miami, where I’m confident we can return to the form we showed in the previous weekends."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"I’m not sure if we could have expected more in terms of finishing higher up the order today given our grid positions. However, I was expecting more in terms of pace than we demonstrated in the race. We now need to understand why that was, especially on the Hards and improve in time for Miami both in qualifying and the race because it’s all very close currently with hundredths of a second making a big difference.

"We had put both drivers on a two-stop strategy and Charles did a good job of lengthening his stint on the Mediums, but when the Virtual Safety Car was called, we went for a one stop, with the hope of being able to fight for a podium finish.

"Unfortunately, Carlos had stopped just before the Safety Car and so he too had to switch to a single stop. This naturally meant he had to be a bit conservative in the final part of the race, but he still brought home the best result that was possible today."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren, Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari and Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari talk during the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mercedes

Russell had a great start and jumped the Ferraris, but was unlucky to go for his first pit stop before the Safety Car periods. He at least got a ‘free’ second stop at that point, but that first pit stop was enough to lose out to the Ferraris overall, and from there had a relatively lonely race. As for Hamilton, he started on the softs in a bid to climb back through the field. He too gained a cheap second stop and managed from there to climb back to the points with some aggressive overtaking.

Lewis Hamilton, 9th

"I went forwards and got into the points, but it was a tough race. Ultimately, I made a bad set-up change to the car yesterday and I paid the price for it. I plan to make sure I don’t do that in the future! The car does seem to work in a small window, and I did think it was the correct thing to do. Sadly, it made today very difficult. The team did a great job with the pit stops though and George did well to score some solid points. I’m sure the next race in Miami will be better.

"Whilst I didn’t have the best race, it’s still been awesome to see the incredible fans here. They are some of the best anywhere in the world. I am so grateful to see them again after several years away and it made for a brilliant atmosphere."

George Russell, 6th

"Starting P8 and making up a few positions was what we were expecting from today’s race. The result is probably a fair one and we know we have work to do. We’ve had a similar battle with Alonso and Piastri in the last three races so P6 is about where our car is at present.

"It was interesting weekend, overall. With the Sprint format, we ended up having two very different set-ups on the car from Friday and Saturday morning into the rest of the weekend. There’s lots to pick through and hopefully things to build on. We need to keep on adding performance to the car in order to finish higher up the grid. We will keep working hard to do so."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Considering where we started today and more importantly, where we had put the cars in terms of their set-up after the Sprint, P6 and P9 was the best prediction from our pre-race simulations. The car that we have under us is not currently fast enough. However, we must make sure that we are not trying to find a silver bullet each weekend when it comes to how we run the car; we need to focus on getting the basics right, and maximising the package we have. Today, we didn’t have the car in the right window: we made too many extreme changes after the Sprint and that made the most important part of the weekend much more challenging. We know that today’s result is not strong enough overall, so we must dig deep to make improvements. The pack behind Red Bull is close, and small details can make a big difference in terms of finishing position. We have developments to bring in the coming races which we hope are a step forward and will improve the car."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It was always going to be a tough race for us. We're not quick enough currently and we didn't qualify well. Our finishing positions were exactly where we'd forecast them to be this morning. George couldn't really have got more out of it; he got a good start which put him ahead of the Ferraris, but we'd taken a bit too much out of the rear tyres in that first stint and had to box earlier than planned. That early stop would have been more painful to deal with, but the two Safety Car periods were helpful for us and neutralised the tyre age offset. The race from there on was straightforward. We were not quick enough to attack Sainz but had the pace to stay ahead of Fernando.

"Lewis's race wasn't easy as he didn't gain much off the line on the Soft tyre. He then got stuck in a traffic jam on the inside line around Turn 2 and lost to cars on the wide line. We had made some changes to his car after the Sprint and clearly, they didn’t improve the car. It made Qualifying and the race difficult. He was struggling to turn the car and having to use the power to do so, which was hurting the rear tyres. We decided to pit him under the Virtual Safety Car to offset to other cars, but most of our competitors did the same once the Safety Car was deployed. We benefitted from a couple of cars dropping out ahead but, considering the early part of the race, it was a relief to get some points. We will work hard to ensure we do a better job at the next race in Miami."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 leads Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Aston Martin had an exceptionally busy race with both cars. Alonso had a mega start to run second, and was holding on to third for quite some time. He lost out to Norris and Leclerc who both got to stop under the VSC, before the team bolted on some softs under the Safety Car – the only ones to do so. That guaranteed him another stop late on which dropped him down the order and while he recovered to seventh, more seemed possible. As for Stroll, he forced Hulkenberg wide at the race start which was deemed acceptable – but he also hit the back of Ricciardo’s car at the restart, which the stewards weren’t so happy with. A 10-second penalty, another pit stop after wrecking his tyres fighting Magnussen and some overheating brakes made for a difficult time of it down the order.

Fernando Alonso, 7th

“We didn't quite have the pace today and it was a tricky race with a lot of things happening. Despite this, it was important to score some points and a bonus to get the fastest lap too. We made a good start and moved up to second, and for a moment I thought it would be nice to lead the race for a lap, but we couldn't make that happen. A few Safety Cars changed the strategy a little bit and we didn't have any more Hard tyres available, so that's why we made a switch to the Soft compound. Overall, it was a good race, but we have some work to do to improve our Sunday pace and match what we can do in Qualifying.”

Lance Stroll, 16th

“We were on for a good result today. The Soft tyres had performed well at the start of the race and I made a couple of crucial overtakes to climb into the points. We timed our stop well under the VSC and I think ninth place was on the cards. Then, when the Safety Car came in, there was a chain reaction with all the cars ahead suddenly slowing. I didn't have enough time to react and avoid contact with Daniel [Ricciardo]. It's frustrating, because I ended up with the penalty, but the incident was caused by someone at the front of the pack braking suddenly. After the front wing change we were running last which meant our race was effectively over. It's a shame to lose out on the points, but we'll regroup ahead of another Sprint weekend in Miami.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

“Seven hard-earned points today after an eventful Chinese Grand Prix weekend. Fernando's three-stop race was compromised to some extent by the extended Safety Car periods, which negated the full benefit of the Soft tyres. Fernando's recovery in the final laps, making use of new Medium tyres, provided plenty of entertainment and brought him back to P7. We also picked up a point for the fastest lap. It was good damage limitation. Lance's strong race was undone by the incident under the Safety Car: we need to fully analyse what happened but it was a chain reaction caused by cars ahead. He was running well in the points, was on the best tyre strategy, and was set to score good points. We will regroup ahead of another Sprint weekend in Miami."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images )

Haas

Hulkenberg was pushed wide at the start by Stroll, but brushed that off to fight his way into the points at the flag. He had an eventful race, involved in a moment with Sargeant that earned the Williams man a penalty, but managed to emerge from all the chaos with a point in the bag. As for Magnussen, he was the only driver to start on the hards but his race was marred when he tapped Tsunoda into a spin at the first restart. That earned him a ten second time penalty, as well as causing a lengthy pit stop for a new front wing.

Nico Hulkenberg, 10th

“It was a faultless and clean race from my side today. I think it was a well-managed and well-controlled race from the team. It’s a positive and I’m very happy about that – we got that one point that was up for grabs today. One of the top-five team’s cars had a problem and that’s the spot we got because of it, otherwise it’s not really possible to race with them. It also shows we need to have a perfect qualifying on Saturday and a perfect race on Sunday to be able to be where we are today. We couldn’t have done much more. One point, in our world, is a lot!”

Kevin Magnussen, 15th

“It just really wasn’t our day today to be honest. We started 17th after a bad qualifying yesterday – we took the consequence of that today. Sometimes you can make it back, but today we couldn’t. We had attempted a one-stop strategy, we had to bail out because the degradation was too high on the hard. As soon as I came out on the new hard rubber, I had the puncture because of the incident with Yuki – so had to pit again for the medium. I effectively had to do a one-stop anyway, even though we didn’t want to. Things were working well with the car though, we seem to have decent pace in it, that was also the case in Sprint qualifying and the Sprint race earlier in the weekend.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“It was amazing to get a point again today with Nico. In terms of Nico’s race, from everyone – driving, operations, pit-stop, it was perfection. We knew exactly what we had to do in terms of getting ourselves into a good position to get that point – initially against Bottas. Both communication and execution were good. Honestly, I think we managed to execute a perfect race with Nico – it was brilliant. With Kevin, unfortunately we didn’t have luck from qualifying, so we started from the back and couldn’t really do the race we wanted to do. Now we look forward to Miami. I think we can take a lot of confidence from this race.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Alpine

Ocon put his upgrades to good use to climb back through the field, and was even running in the points late on before Alonso managed to climb back up on fresh tyres. Nonetheless, P11 is still an improvement on what has gone before and bodes well for this design direction. Gasly in the older, heavier spec car was always likely to struggle more, and his day was made harder with a chaotic pit stop that saw one of his mechanics knocked over, fortunately the team quickly confirmed he was okay.

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

Esteban Ocon, 11th

“As expected, it was a hectic race today with plenty of action and close racing, which was really fun from behind the wheel. Overall, we managed the race and the tyres well. The positive is that we were more competitive here and put ourselves in contention for points, but narrowly missed out in the end - albeit being the best result of the season. We made a small step in performance this weekend, with the new parts the team brought to the track working as expected. Thank you to the team for fast-tracking the upgrades, but we must keep improving in order to remain in the fight for points in the coming races, continuing in Miami in two weeks’ time.”

Pierre Gasly, 13th

“We can be encouraged with the outcome today looking at the performance this season so far. It was quite interesting how the race unfolded and there are a few areas where we lost time today, but I am glad we managed to recover some places. We will take a lot of learnings with us. There is a lot for us to analyse and understand from this weekend, which we will focus on in the coming days preparing for the next race in Miami. I am already looking forward to being back in the US, where we will have the opportunity to run with the new package on my side for the first time. Until then, the team will continue to work hard, so we can make sure we can continue improving and get us closer back to where we want to be. The Chinese fans put on a great show today and it felt great to be back here after such a long time.”

Bruno Famin, Team Principal

“It was an incident-packed race with multiple Safety Car periods, meaning we needed to stay alert and be ready to react, which we did with a well-executed double stacked pit-stop. Esteban drove a great race to be within striking distance of scoring points, but just missed out in the end. Pierre also did well to recover and make up places after the delay in his first stop. Thankfully nobody was hurt, and we will investigate the reasons to avoid such incidents in future. What today shows is that we still have work to do, and as a team, we need to keep pushing for more performance, as we did not quite have enough today. Special thanks to the team at the factory, who put in a big effort to bring new parts to Shanghai, which performed as expected.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault leads Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

RB

RB were in for an interesting race with their drivers on differing strategies, but it all unravelled at the restart. Ricciardo was hit from behind by Stroll, which caused enough damage that he retired as soon as the race restarted. Tsunoda was hit at the same restart, tapped into a spin by Magnussen with the resultant puncture and damage enough for him to pull over and park up. Ricciardo was later handed a three-place grid drop for Miami after being deemed at fault for a Safety Car infringement.

READ MORE: Ricciardo hit with three-place grid penalty for Miami weekend after Chinese GP rule breach

Daniel Ricciardo, DNF

“We started to make up a lot of ground in the stint before the Safety Car but during the restart, I got a pretty big hit and the car was damaged. We decided to retire because I wasn’t really driving an F1 car. It’s very frustrating. I watched his onboard and it looked like he wasn’t even looking at me, it seemed that his helmet was looking at the apex. We’ll never know what could have happened later in the race, but I think we were looking in a good place. Getting ruined by someone else makes me frustrated and this is where the disappointment comes, because today we had an opportunity and we missed it. I think there’s a lot of disappointment for everyone in the team. When I got back to the garage, I saw the mechanics looking at the damage and they feel as heartbroken as I do. I think we definitely had a better weekend from a pace point of view, and I I think the team could feel some momentum and some shift to the season. We go onto Miami and we’ll just try to keep working on that.”

Yuki Tsunoda, DNF

“It’s unfortunate and frustrating how it ended up today. I was happy with how I progressed in the race until my contact with Magnussen. After the Safety Car, the start was good and I gained five positions, so I feel I maximised what I could do but the pace itself hadn’t improved as much as we wanted. We’ve been sliding more than other cars and the team has been pushing hard and helping me sort it out but overall, this week we weren’t able to show our true strong performance, and that’s a shame. We’ll look into why back in Faenza, and I know as a team we’ll come back stronger in Miami. It’s a shame that also Daniel had to retire because he had good pace in this race, so as a team, it’s frustrating that neither car finished the race and we couldn’t score points.”

Claudio Balestri, Chief Engineer – Vehicle Performance

“For the race, we decided to split the two cars on a different strategy, starting Daniel on the medium compound and Yuki on the soft compound. For Daniel, he lost some positions at the start while Yuki was able to gain some. At the end of Lap 1, Daniel was P15 and Yuki P16, and considering we were far from the points we decided to pit Yuki for an early pitstop, with the target being to undercut the others and fitting a set of new medium tyres. Instead with Daniel, we decided to stay out and go for a longer first stint, pitting him on Lap 14. The degradation was a bit higher than expected on all the compounds and when Bottas stopped his car on track, it created a Virtual Safety Car, followed by a full Safety Car. Almost all the cars pitted for the hard compound to try and go to the end, including Yuki. Unfortunately, just before the restart, Stroll ran into the back of Daniel and heavily damaged his car, and immediately after the restart, Magnussen hit Yuki, damaging his rear right tyre. In summary, both cars were out of the race. Today was not our day but we’ll switch our focus to the next race in Miami, where we want to fight for the points.”

Laurent Mekies, Team Principal

“It is a disappointing Sunday for us with both cars taken out of the race in separate incidents which our drivers could do nothing about. It’s painful but we have no other choice than to accept it and move on. On a positive note, and even if the weekend had started on the slow side, everyone has been working very hard to recover enough pace to be in the fight for P10 again. Daniel produced a very strong drive all weekend, especially today, battling with Lewis just before the Safety Car came out. It was a trickier weekend for Yuki. It is always going to be difficult to drive for the first time here during a sprint weekend, but he kept fighting hard and drove a good race today where he made up a lot of positions. We will be regrouping with Daniel, Yuki, and the whole team in Faenza and in Bicester to analyse the weekend together and come back stronger in Miami for another ultra-tight battle, and hopefully a less frustrating Sunday!”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 leads Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Williams

Sargeant opted for some changes to his car and a pit lane start and then was in the thick of the action all race long. He was handed a 10-second time penalty for overtaking Hulkenberg under the Safety Car in a muddle as the Haas man came out of the pits, but was deemed not at fault for his fight with Gasly that saw the Alpine pushed wide. As for Albon, he was frustrated with some defence from the Alpines early on, but did manage to get past on an afternoon where points could have been possible had luck gone his way.

Alex Albon, 12th

"It was an okay race today. Although the lower winds helped us, we were battling a lot of tyre degradation throughout the race. We ultimately didn’t have the pace to overtake [Esteban] Ocon at the end and he was defending well. We understand the problems with the car, but they’re not immediate fixes and we will need a few upgrades to improve our performance. Looking to Miami, I think our car will suit the track much better and I’m optimistic we can have a better result."

Logan Sargeant, 17th

"It’s been a difficult weekend as we’ve been struggling to get the car in the right window. We’ve had good moments and some bad moments through the weekend. Most importantly we need to figure out what we could’ve done better as a team. The first half of the race was solid. The start on the Softs was strong then we were in a really good place on the Medium tyres. We probably could’ve done without the Safety Car because we would’ve gone Medium, Medium which would’ve suited us better. When we put the Hard tyres on, I couldn’t get them to switch on and suffered with degradation. The penalty for the Safety Car infringement doesn’t really matter in the end. From my perspective, I thought I crossed the line first. When the cars are going at such different speeds, I don’t know how I could’ve known the true order."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"We were more competitive today and having taken the opportunity to make some setup changes on Logan’s car, we were able to do some useful testing in good conditions. The experience gained yesterday in the Sprint race helped Alex and Logan to manage their stints today. Whilst we didn’t quite have the pace to fight for the final points positions, we were close on pace with the teams around us.

"It was good to come back to the Shanghai circuit and complete the first Sprint event of the year. It was a tricky weekend, but the team worked very hard throughout, and we made good progress as the event progressed."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault leads Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images )

Kick Sauber

Not to be for Bottas, who pulled over midway through the race with a smoking engine to bring out both the VSC and then the Safety Car, as that stricken Kick Sauber proved trickier to recover than first thought. Zhou did see the chequered flag on an emotional day on home soil, unable to challenge for points after a couple of sticky pit stops. The team gambled on another late stop for softs to see if he could climb back through the field, but he only managed P14 in the end.

Valtteri Bottas, DNF

“Today marks a rather disappointing ending to a very promising weekend: starting from P10 put me in a good position to fight for points, and the race was going well overall until I suddenly lost drive and my engine turned off – something we’ll have to thoroughly investigate in the upcoming days. It’s quite unfortunate, while there was still a long way to go, I was fighting with Nico [Hülkenberg] who made it into the points. It’s tough to accept, but this is racing, and many more opportunities will arise: our pace is improving and as a team, we’re making small steps on many fronts all the time. We’ve been around P10 the entire weekend and were able to learn a lot about our car and our upgrades that will allow us to maximise our potential. As we keep making those steps, I’m looking forward to racing in Miami again, a track I have enjoyed a lot in the last years.”

Zhou Guanyu, 14th

“This weekend has been an amazing experience: for years, I dreamt about racing at home and finally I was able to do it. To see the passion and the love from everyone on the stands was something I’ve never experienced before: the in-lap, in particular, was something I won’t ever forget, seeing so many people cheering and shouting your name. I made sure I waved at each grandstand, at every corner with fans. As much as I treated this as a regular race weekend, the emotion was undeniable and it really got me in the end, especially when I stopped in Parc Ferme: it was a special moment, topping off the honour of being the first ever Chinese driver to race in a Chinese Grand Prix.

“The race was tough, especially in the first stint where I didn’t have a lot of grip and I was sliding all over the place, but we did manage to recover well. Finishing the race isn’t what makes me happy – it's to do so fighting my way through the field, giving everything and leaving nothing behind. Unfortunately, starting from the back we knew breaking into the points would be difficult, but we can focus on some positives, such as our pace; and, of course, the great improvement done by the team and the crew in the pit stops, which were mostly clean. At the end, we chose to go for a cheeky stint on softs: we knew we’d be able to keep the position we were in if we didn’t stop, so we gambled to switch to softs and see if we could improve even more. We did a lot of overtakes, the car felt good and it was nice to fight my way through. Given the pressure of this weekend, I am happy with the job I have done. The whole weekend was positive, yesterday afternoon and today a bit tougher but we gave it all.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

“This hasn't been the race we expected, it hasn’t been the race we wanted. Before going into the analysis of the race, it’s worth acknowledging the important page that Zhou, together with the team, has written for the history of motorsport and Formula One in China. Testament to this is the support of all the spectators throughout the whole weekend, from Thursday onwards: it was something impressive, that went beyond our expectations. We saw how much the popularity of Formula One is increasing in China thanks to Zhou, and we’re proud that our team could be part of this with him. We expected a tough race for him, starting 16th, but he had good pace and fought well in the many battles he had. We adopted an aggressive strategy in the closing stages, switching to soft tyres to give him more performance: unfortunately, there were no points for him today, but it was important to show he could fight and be competitive against the cars around him.

“It was a disappointing end of the race for Valtteri, who was fighting with Nico [Hülkenberg] for a place in the top ten. He had a solid opening stint on medium tyres, and the choice to move to hards was the right one: unfortunately, his race was cut short by a drivetrain issue, something we will investigate. It was a big disappointment as he had the pace to finish in the points, which would have been a deserved result for him and the team. Finally, a positive side to today’s race was the consistency in our pit stops, in which we were able to achieve the target we had set for ourselves for this weekend. It’s an improvement that will give confidence to our pit crew too. Now, we set our sights to Miami with the awareness we can go there for a strong weekend.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber looks on from the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

“I take my hat off to yet another show of strength from Max Verstappen, who won twice on this first Sprint weekend of the season. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting race because behind the three time world champion, there was a very close race with surprises, overtaking and excitement. In fact, there was also great excitement among the Chinese fans who had their eyes glued on local hero Guanyu Zhou all weekend long, and he showed his emotion acknowledging their support after the race.

“From a purely technical point of view, today’s race confirmed that all three compounds were suitable for use. Obviously, the long Safety Car periods affected the way the race played out, allowing those considering a one-stop to make it work. However, given the level of degradation evident, it would have really been borderline to make the one stop work without the Safety Car, as there would have been too high a price to pay in terms of performance compared to those who would have been on quicker, and possibly newer, tyres in the final part of the race. In fact, this was demonstrated by Alonso, who came in for new Mediums on lap 43 when in seventh place, and was then able to make up all five places lost at the pit stop over the course of his final stint. Finally, it’s worth noting that none of the three compounds suffered from graining, further proof that they worked well on this unusual track in very particular conditions.”

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

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