What the teams said – Sprint day and Qualifying in China

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Zhou Guanyu of China driving the (24) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari leads

Red Bull

Verstappen and Perez both struggled off the line in the Sprint with some engine issues, but once those were solved they had plenty of pace to spare. Verstappen carved his way through the field to take the lead and win in style by 13 seconds, while Perez had to work harder for his P3 – involved in a multi-car fight with Alonso and the Ferraris but coming out on top.

Verstappen picked up where he left off in the Sprint by being totally dominant in qualifying to grab his fifth straight pole, and Perez backed that up with second to ensure Red Bull go into tomorrow’s Grand Prix in the best possible position.

Max Verstappen – Sprint: 1st, Qualifying: 1st, 1:33.660

“The start of the Sprint was a bit tricky for me because the other drivers on the grid had new tyres, so for the first lap they had a bit more grip than I did. My battery was also completely empty, so I had to do a few changes on the wheel to try and get it back up, but once that was all sorted out the pace was good, I was able to look after my tyres well. Ahead of qualifying we changed the fittings on the car and they worked out really well, so I’m very pleased with that. It looks promising for the race, we were strong in the Sprint, but of course there is a lot of information that the other teams can analyse now, so I don’t expect it to be completely straightforward. For the race tomorrow I think that the wind direction could have quite a bit of influence on the balance of the car, but if we do a similar performance to today then I will be very happy. Overall, it was a very good Saturday, I couldn’t have really wished for more. We celebrated the Team’s 100th pole today with Checo at the front of the grid with me in P2. Naturally starting from pole will help and although it isn’t always a guarantee, it does make life a bit easier. The support in Shanghai has been great, there are a lot of fans in the grandstand and it has been a while since we have raced here, so I’m very happy to be back and looking forward to tomorrow."

Sergio Perez – Sprint: 3rd, Qualifying: 2nd, 1:33.982

“I was happy with the Sprint result in the end this morning, unfortunately it took me a lot of laps to get by the Spaniards and once I got by, it was just too late to get Lewis. Going into qualifying we did a lot of set up changes and I couldn’t get a good read of the car throughout. It was quite a messy qualifying session, we had a bad Q1 with some traffic. My first proper run was my second in Q2 and Q3 didn’t feel perfect either, but I think we managed to learn throughout qualifying and get into a better rhythm. In the end, it was a good one for the Team, I am very happy to have locked out the front row on the day we got our 100th pole. We have a lot better understanding of the car at the moment and that is continuing to pay off. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the Chinese fans who haven’t had Formula One here for a lot of years."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

"A fantastic qualifying to close out an outstanding day from the Team. The track was evolving quickly today and it was a great performance from both drivers. Max dominated in both sessions, picking up in qualifying right where he left off after his win in the Sprint and Checo did a great job also. He has come into this season with a new frame of mind, he is relaxed while maintaining full focus on the task at hand and that shines through in his performance and delivery; exactly where he needs to be. The win in the Sprint, locking out the front row and securing our 100th pole, fifteen years after our first pole at this very track is really a performance to be proud of. Tomorrow is a different day of course but for now we enjoy today and can reflect on a continued strong effort from the Team both here and back at Milton Keynes. Truly a job well done."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso held onto third under huge pressure for lap after lap, but eventually couldn’t hold Sainz at bay. Those two both ran wide to allow Perez through, with Alonso picking up an unlucky puncture that ended his involvement in the Sprint. He was also awarded three penalty points from the stewards for that moment. Stroll started too far back to play much of a part, although he was involved in a start line incident with Hulkenberg that might give him food for thought for tomorrow.

MUST-SEE: Enjoy Sainz and Alonso’s dare-devil battle for P3 in the Shanghai Sprint

Alonso’s DNF didn’t bother him overmuch, as he put in a very good performance to grab third on the grid – which could have been second bar a mistake in the opening sector – while Stroll couldn’t make the top 10 and had to settle for 11th.

Fernando Alonso – Sprint: DNF, Qualifying: 3rd, 1:34.148

“I am happy with third position in Qualifying today. Both Q1 and Q2 went smoothly, and we progressed into Q3. I then nearly aborted my last lap in Q3 because I lost a few tenths in the first sector. I made back some of this lap time during the rest of the lap, so I kept going and I'm glad I did. We are again a few positions higher in Qualifying than our natural position suggests, but we will take this result and it's always nice to finish in the top three. It will be a real fight to keep our rivals behind us for a full race distance, but let's see what we can do tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll – Sprint: 14th, Qualifying: 11th, 1:34.838

“This morning's Sprint was a difficult race: we struggled for pace and couldn't make much progress. Despite making some set-up changes ahead of Qualifying, the car still isn't where I need it to be and it was frustrating not to make it through to Q3 by such small margins. We'll do our best to fight for points tomorrow.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

"A busy day in Shanghai with the Sprint this morning and Qualifying this afternoon providing plenty of entertainment for the fans. We saw box-office racing in the Sprint and it was a shame that Fernando lost out in the close podium battle, but placing his car in P3 for tomorrow’s Grand Prix is the perfect response. His final lap in Q3 really pulled it out of the bag because he was a few tenths down after the first sector. Lance lines up in P11 and is well placed to challenge for points. We made quite a few changes to the car after the Sprint, which will hopefully pay off in the race tomorrow. It is a weekend where learning quickly has been paramount and, as a team, we have responded well to the challenge of fast-evolving conditions.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team walks in parc ferme after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)


Norris started on pole but wasn’t as quick out of the blocks as Hamilton. Those two were side by side through the opening corners, Norris eventually ceding and running wide which dropped him down the order. He fought back to sixth at the flag, running out of time to overtake Sainz ahead. As for Piastri, he started on used tyres to his team mate’s new set, which cost him enough time that he couldn’t quite get involved in the squabbles ahead.

Those two were quietly efficient in qualifying, both making Q3 and out-qualifying the Ferraris. But tyre wear looks to be their issue tomorrow, with the papaya team harder on the Pirelli rubber than some of their rivals.

Lando Norris – Sprint: 6th, Qualifying: 4th, 1:34.165

“I think it was a good qualifying for us. Maybe P3 was on the cards – but I think we have to be satisfied. Sometimes you win it, sometimes you lose it in these very close sessions. Another good starting position and a good qualifying so I’m happy with today. The real challenge is tomorrow. We need to get our heads down and do our best tonight and prepare the best we can for the main race and get some good points for the team.”

Oscar Piastri – Sprint: 7th, Qualifying: 5th, 1:34.273

“P5, I’m happy with that. I think the last lap in Q3 was pretty solid. A couple of corners were a bit scrappy but that’s just the nature of the beast around here. We’re in a good place to fight for points tomorrow so we’ll see what we can do. We’ll do our best to stay there, which may be tricky as our race pace isn’t quite there as we saw in the Sprint this morning, but we’ll give it our all.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“Qualifying in Shanghai confirmed our car is competitive with new tyres, in qualifying trim. P4 and P5 is a strong position from which to start the race tomorrow, hopefully to score important points. At the same time, we saw in the Sprint that the challenge becomes more difficult across a race stint. We have to improve this, and have already made some set-up tweaks between Sprint and qualifying today. We’ll see tomorrow exactly how helpful those are, but for the moment, well done to the team and drivers for maximising the potential of the car this afternoon.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 leads the field at the start as Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes runs wide during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


The two Ferraris fought hard in the Sprint, both with their rivals and each other. Sainz seemed to pick up some damage fighting with Alonso, those two banging wheels at one point. Leclerc then pushed past his team mate, Sainz forcing the Monegasque wide in a move that didn’t impress Leclerc one bit.

Roll on qualifying, and Sainz made a big error in Q2, dipping a wheel in the gravel and spinning into the barriers to bring out the red flags. Somehow he limped back minus his front wing and was able to continue, making it into Q3. But once there Ferrari struggled compared to their rivals and couldn’t match the McLarens over one lap.

Charles Leclerc – Sprint: 4th, Qualifying: 6th, 1:34.289

"We compromised our qualifying by prioritising the race tomorrow and struggled slightly more than we expected. Our race pace is strong and it will be a long one, with tyre degradation playing a big role here. Even the smallest change of wind can influence the car balance, so anything can happen. We will push tomorrow and let’s see what is possible."

Carlos Sainz – Sprint: 5th, Qualifying: 7th, 1:34.297

"This qualifying session didn't go as well as we hoped, but even after the incident in the last corner we managed to keep it together and reacted positively right away.

"Overall it was a tough session for us, as we struggled a bit too much in sector 1 and our total lap time wasn’t enough to fight for better positions. However I’m confident that in the race, with this set up, we will be faster than some of the rivals starting in front of us. We are up for an interesting race tomorrow where strategy will also play an important role."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"We were expecting a better result to be honest. This afternoon our performance was quite inconsistent not just from one session to another, but from one run to another. I think both our drivers did the maximum today as the fact that they set basically the same time in Q3 is there to show but it was definitely a chaotic afternoon. Carlos made a mistake in Q2 but was able to manage the crash and bring the car back to continue the session. Of course, we need to keep working on where we are lacking over a flying lap.

"Now, let’s focus on tomorrow: from what we saw this morning in the Sprint Race it seems that we have a good pace over a long stint. It’s going to be a long race in which tyre degradation will play a part and good pitstops and strategy can also make a difference. We will prepare in detail for the race, as we have seen that overtaking is possible unless you are stuck in a DRS train as was the case this morning."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari returns to the pitlane after crashing his Ferrari SF-24 during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Hamilton was feisty off the line, forcing Norris into a mistake to take the lead of the Sprint. He held that lead for half the distance, not fighting Verstappen too hard when he came past but doing more than enough to hold on to a very decent P2. As for Russell, he alone started on the soft tyres and despite dropping a position off the line, was able to overtake Bottas and Magnussen to fight back into the points.

Hamilton’s joy from the Sprint was soon dashed as he made a mistake on his flying run in Q1, locking up and exiting a lowly 18th. Russell was left to fly the flag for the team, and while he made Q3, he couldn’t make much impression on the upper reaches of the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton – Sprint: 2nd, Qualifying: 18th, 1:35.573

"To be sat on the front-row for the Sprint was a great feeling. Racing into turn one and taking the lead reminded me of what I love so much about this sport! It was a challenging race but to get second was great.

"We knew Qualifying would be much more tough this afternoon though. I made some sizeable set-up changes after the Sprint to try and improve the car in the slow speed turns. It wasn’t too bad in some corners, but I struggled elsewhere. It was challenging to get the rear tyres to stop into turn 14 and that’s where I locked up on my final lap. If I hadn’t had that, I would have made it through to Q2. I’ll be giving it my best shot tomorrow. We can still have some fun even if we are starting from P18."

George Russell – Sprint: 8th, Qualifying: 8th, 1:34.433

"We didn’t have our best day today. With the strong wind, it was very challenging out there. The conditions had changed from Friday too, so we had to adapt. We took the Soft tyre for the Sprint and it was definitely worth the gamble. It performed OK and it gave us some good learnings for tomorrow. Ultimately, we did well to score a point.

"Qualifying was also tricky. My first lap in Q2 was looking very strong but the red flag forced us to abort. We had to use another set of new tyres to progress to Q3. Without that, we would have had two new sets for the final part of Qualifying and it could have been a different outcome but who knows. We are in that fight between P3 and P8 and, unfortunately, we’ve found ourselves at the back end of that battle in the last few races in Qualifying. Small differences can have a major impact.

"It is hard to predict what will happen tomorrow. It’s all to play for with those cars around us so hopefully we have the pace to move forward."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Second in the Sprint was a good result. Lewis made a very strong start and that opened up the potential of a strong finish for us. With George, the Soft tyre was a bit of an experiment that we wanted to try. It held on better than expected and that opens up more possibilities for Sunday. Ultimately, we knew that we had outperformed where the true pace of our car was in the Sprint.

"We therefore decided to make some big set-up changes between the Sprint and Qualifying to try and improve the car’s low-speed performance. The drivers chose to go in pretty different directions to support our learning process, but it clearly didn’t work for us today on a single lap. Lewis would have progressed comfortably out of Q1 without a lock-up in Turn 14 that cost him more than half-a-second.

"George made it through to Q3 solidly but had just one set of new tyres available. He set his fastest lap of the session, but like two weeks ago in Suzuka, was at the back of a close group where a couple of tenths equate to four or five grid positions. We now need to focus on racing and recovering strongly tomorrow and moving forwards with both cars."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It was great to be able to hang onto P2 with Lewis in the Sprint and for George to make enough places up to get into the points. However, neither driver was happy with the car. The wind rotated overnight and made the balance very inconsistent. In some corners we were suffering with understeer and in others the rear was very weak. To try to address that, we made extensive changes to both cars going into Qualifying. The car was quite different and ultimately that caught Lewis out in Q1 with a big lock into the hairpin on his final lap. Without that he would have gone through comfortably.

"George managed a little better, but it still wasn't an easy car to drive. With only one new set of Soft tyres for Q3, P8 was ultimately the best we could do. We're at the back of a tight bunch and small steps will change the picture quite quickly, but right now we're not quick enough. We'll run the usual simulations this evening to understand how to best optimise the situation for tomorrow, but we're likely going to have to look for the opportunities to do things differently to others."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes looks on, on the grid prior to the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Magnussen had the better Sprint out of the Haas drivers, getting involved near the front of the field. Hulkenberg couldn’t do likewise, falling back through the order after some elbows out fighting with Stroll early on.

Those two reversed their fortunes in qualifying, with Magnussen exiting in Q1 while Hulkenberg made it all the way to Q3 and even matched Russell’s Mercedes for pace at one point. Ninth on the grid is a very good position for the German to target more points.

Nico Hulkenberg – Sprint: 19th, Qualifying: 9th, 1:34.604

“We dropped down the field quite dramatically in the Sprint – there was nothing obvious, no damage on the car. In the pack, right after the start, I think we ruined our tyres over the first few laps. We were just driving in the dirty air of many cars – so we paid a big price for that. After that I hit degradation and just went backwards. Maybe we did a wrong turn on the set-up after yesterday going from FP1 into Sprint quali. We intended to make the car better, but it reacted in a strange and different way to what we expected in the Sprint. Then I was very happy with quali, it was very clean, not sure I could have asked for more in terms of execution and my laps. We remedied things from the Sprint, things were more in-line with what we expected – so I’m happy. I expect a tough race tomorrow, I think it will be a stretch for us, but I look forward to it.”

Kevin Magnussen – Sprint: 10th, Qualifying: 17th, 1:35.516

“To keep P10 in the Sprint was a pretty tough task – it seemed like the RB and the Sauber were a little bit faster than us. So, hopefully we can work on that for tomorrow’s race, we’d like to be able to keep the tyres alive a little bit longer. In quali, I only got one lap on the first run as I was called onto the weigh-bridge, we didn’t have time to go out again on that first set of tyres. I only had one lap on my second set, and Sargeant went off at Turn 8 in front of me, I lost a little bit of time there, and then at Turn 14 Tsunoda got in the way. These days it’s just so tight and here we find ourselves out in Q1. I feel like I was a little bit unlucky.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“The Sprint was a bit mixed. Kevin had a half-decent race. In terms of speed – we’re missing, but with tyre degradation we weren’t too bad. With Nico it was another story. We have a pretty decent idea as a team why Nico’s degradation was so much worse than Kevin, but also why Kevin’s pace wasn’t great. With this year’s regulations we can change the car set-up between Sprint and qualifying, so we made some adjustments. In qualifying this afternoon, car performance over one lap on the soft tyre was pretty good. We’re targeting to get into Q3, and with Nico we achieved that today – being the fastest car from outside the top five teams. That’s the best we can do, so it was a good job. On the other side, we couldn’t make it into Q2 with Kevin. He was a bit unfortunate in terms of timing, but we could have done a bit better in terms of preparing him better for his second run – we just missed it by a tiny margin. Those margins are tight these days, we just have to aim to do the perfect job. So – bit mixed, but it’s good that we showed the potential of the car with Nico, we’ll see what we can do from there tomorrow.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 looks on, on the grid prior to the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Bottas and Zhou had an intra-team fight early on, both running wide at one point which cost Bottas some front wing damage. That cost the Finn some time and so some positions, but Zhou was able to keep his race clean and can count himself unlucky in coming home ninth, one position outside the points.

That was the highlight for the Chinese racer in the end, as a lock up on his final flying run cost him the chance to progress in qualifying. But Bottas didn’t just make Q2, he made it all the way to Q3 for the first time this year, backing up his SQ3 showing from yesterday and proving that his pace was no rain-affected fluke.

Valtteri Bottas – Sprint: 12th, Qualifying: 10th, 1:34.665

“It’s been a good day, overall, and we can look forward to tomorrow to hopefully finish our weekend on this level. In the Sprint, earlier today, I had a good start but then got a bit unlucky when I got sandwiched in turn six on the opening lap, causing damage to the front wing endplate – which unfortunately made the rest of the race tricky to manage. Apart from that, we enjoyed good pace, as we could see with Zhou, who made it into the top ten - which is promising for the main race tomorrow. Qualifying was a different business; it was a straightforward job from our side, and everything went smoothly, allowing us to make it past the Q3 threshold for the first time this season. Overall, it’s been good to see our progress on track this weekend so far; we got pretty close to Nico [Hulkenberg] in Q3, so we should be in for some fun tomorrow, and hopefully some action. I think we have a realistic chance to score points, so we’ll need to execute everything to perfection. As a plus, we are getting lots of support from the grandstands, which is surely a great boost do to well. Everyone is really motivated ahead of the race, and we are really raring to go.”

Zhou Guanyu – Sprint: 9th, Qualifying: 16th, 1:35.505

“Racing on a new track for me, the first time in front of a home crowd, with a new weekend format – we knew this weekend had the potential to be challenging, but we have plenty of positives to look back to today, even if qualifying could have been better. I feel we maximised all we could get out of the Sprint: P9 was not enough for a point, but we can feel really confident about the pace we displayed in those 19 laps, as we knew we needed some exceptional circumstances to come away with a place in the top eight. Missing out on Q2 in qualifying was disappointing, but it was not an easy session: I first got blocked in turn one on my first proper run, before a lock-up in turn 14 damaged my final attempt. I lost two and a half tenths there, and in the end, we were out by six hundredths. We had the potential to go all the way to Q3, but in such a tight field you need to have the perfect lap and today we were just a little bit short. Still, we saw we were quite competitive, especially on the medium tyre, which is a good indication for the race. We know we can push to the limit and make progress tomorrow: much can happen here and I’m looking forward to the race, when the conditions will likely be similar to what we had this morning. The support of the crowd has been incredible, something I never felt in my life: we all want to go out there in the race and give them something to smile about.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

“Today has been a full day on track, with the Sprint session in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon, and the overall balance is positive. We started the day with a good result for Zhou, finishing P9 in the sprint – only seconds outside of the points – which confirmed that our race pace in Shanghai is looking good and that we have the chance to fight with our direct competitors for points. We knew it would be challenging to keep Russell behind as he decided to start on soft tyres, giving him an advantage at the start and the first few laps. However, we expected him to struggle with his tyres at the end of the session, but we were just not close enough to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, Valtteri’s race was compromised in turn six as his front wing endplate got damaged, resulting in a loss of downforce and an upset aero balance.

“The qualifying session in the afternoon confirmed the solidity of our package – unfortunately, we had mixed feelings as Zhou couldn’t enter Q2 for just a few hundredths, due to a lock–up at turn 14. We are optimistic, however, that he’ll be able to make up positions during tomorrow’s race. Valtteri had a very solid session, and a good lap time allowed him to enter Q3. His ideal sector times had him even two tenths better in sector one, and that would have put him in P8 or P9: still, we know we’re there and, with Valtteri being in a good position to score points and with a good balance of the car, we are all motivated to execute a good race and play our cards in the race tomorrow.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber speaks to the media after the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Both RB drivers had a relatively clean dash to the line in the Sprint, Ricciardo perhaps likely to be the most buoyed by his encouraging performance. His strong form continued as he out-qualified his team mate for the first time this season, to make it two from two this weekend over one lap. That’s just the thing the Aussie needed with the pressure mounting, but whether he can turn a decent qualifying into points tomorrow remains to be seen.

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Daniel Ricciardo – Sprint: 11th, Qualifying: 12th, 1:34.934

“So far, it’s been a more positive weekend for us and my best one of the year. We changed the chassis this weekend and I feel the car better and have more confidence in it, so that’s encouraging, but it’s just one track. I’ve always enjoyed Shanghai and I also have a pretty good past here, so I think we need to continue proving our performance in the course of the next few races. We had fun this morning, some positives to take, and some learning for tomorrow’s race. Mid-race in the DRS train was a bit tricky, but then once I cleared Valtteri (Bottas), I was able to catch Kevin (Magnussen) quite quickly. We had a good battle in the last few laps, unfortunately, not for points but we knew it would have been hard to get points in the sprint. Personally, I had a better feeling today, and the sprint was definitely a more attacking race compared to the previous ones.

"Given track conditions changed quite a lot from yesterday, there were different circumstances; the rain made the track more slippery and the wind changed quite a lot, hence there were quite a few challenges before quali. I was happy with my lap in quali and feel there wasn’t much more in it. There were a couple of our direct rivals in Q3 and they found a bit more pace, but I do feel we have a bit more pace than some cars around us. Even if at the same time, I think some others are challenging us from behind. I’m excited to go racing again tomorrow; the sprint this morning has been encouraging, so I hope we can show a bit more in the long run. It’s probably a one-stop race, but it’s quite a unique front-limited circuit, so potentially even two. I think P12 is a decent place to start and offers the opportunity to try catching the ones in front and get some points.”

Yuki Tsunoda – Sprint: 16th, Qualifying: 19th, 1:35.746

“It’s been tough. This morning during the sprint, I tried to find my way, work the car, and learn a bit more, but I was still struggling. We looked into the data and felt like we made a step forward for qualifying. It’s mixed feelings. In sprint qualifying, I felt I wasn’t able to put it together from my side, but in today’s qualifying, I was pretty happy with my lap. I’ve been struggling with rear grip all weekend and looking at the steering trace compared to other cars, I’m fighting my car a lot but I’ve been working hard together with the engineers to improve it and find a solution, and they helped me a lot. Coming into qualifying, we felt good and confident we found an answer for our package. The lap itself I’m fairly happy with but the time doesn’t reflect the feeling, so it feels like we’re just stuck. Ending up P19 again is frustrating and a shame, but we’ll analyse, try to understand, and find the solution. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we have to change something to find more pace and hopefully, we can be close to the points.”

Alan Permane, Racing Director

“Starting with the sprint, both cars moved up three places which was good, although our starting positions were low due to our poor qualifying yesterday. Moving on to qualifying for the main race, Daniel did a good job and was close to making it through to the final session. With Yuki, we’re still struggling and uncertain what’s going on with his car. We’ll have a really good look through tonight. We’ve been through the data all weekend and we haven’t found anything wrong or any issues with his car yet, so we’ll continue looking and try to do the best job we can for him. I’m sure both our drivers will move up tomorrow, and we’ll be pushing to get into the points.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia Visa Cash App RB during Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


Gasly started ahead of his team mate in the Sprint, but those two traded places off the line. Ocon put his upgrades to good effect, managing to fight past Stroll during the Sprint itself.

Ocon’s car has both a new floor and a lighter chassis, so it was no surprise to see him out-qualify Gasly in the afternoon, but Gasly put in a good performance to make his first Q2 segment of the season so far as those two matched their Sprint results.

Esteban Ocon – Sprint: 13th, Qualifying: 13th, 1:35.223

“Overall, it was a good day compared to where we were yesterday and in previous races. We had a solid race and gained four positions in the Sprint. It is our best starting position of the year and both cars into Q2, so it is a satisfying session from that perspective. It is a small step in performance but not a negligible one. Looking at the times, there is still a big gap to make up to those ahead. Seeing how the tyres behaved in the Sprint, the degradation was quite high but manageable, so hopefully it gives us a chance to fight throughout the race and at the end of stints. We will review what strategy options we have available to us and look to make progress in the Grand Prix tomorrow.”

Pierre Gasly – Sprint: 15th, Qualifying: 15th, 1:35.463

“I am happy to be back in China after such a long time, it is a very unique track and great to see all the fans in the grandstand. The Sprint race was quite eventful but a solid result for us. We have made quite some aggressive set-up changes ahead of Qualifying and we knew it was going to be a difficult session, as it has been tricky to get into Q2 for us this season so far. So, I am pleased we have managed to put a clean weekend together up to this point, getting on top of the tyres between each session. The race tomorrow will be very interesting, especially in terms of tyre degradation. We will continue to push hard and get as much out of the car as possible tomorrow.”

Julian Rouse, Sporting Director

“Both drivers did a great job to manage the revised Sprint format. Esteban and Pierre had a clean race in the Sprint, and both progressed to the second part of Qualifying for the first time this season. The double Q2 appearance shows the team is making some progress, but we know there is still a lot of work ahead of us because the gap to those ahead is still quite big. It will be an interesting race, particularly with the degradation we saw during the Sprint. The drivers managed the tyres well and kept them alive to the end, allowing them to make moves in the final laps, which could be crucial in the Grand Prix tomorrow. We will carefully review the different tyre strategies overnight with the aim of looking to move forward in the race.”

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault follows Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images )


The two Williams drivers started too far back in the Sprint to play much of a part, although Albon got some overtaking practice in down the main straight. The Thai racer made Q2 in qualifying yet again in a decent showing, but gave an all or nothing style lap in Q2 which didn’t prove too helpful. As for Sargeant, he spun late on in Q1 to briefly bring out the yellow flags, that moment consigning him to the back of the field for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

Alex Albon – Sprint: 17th, Qualifying: 14th, 1:35.241

"It’s been a tricky weekend so far, so 14th was probably the best we could do today. Our car struggles with the long corners at this track, and the mix of high and low speed corners makes set-up difficult. We had to prioritise low speed corners, compromising stability in high speeds. The wind also affected the balance and made the car feel quite disconnected. Today has clarified what we need to work on going forward, and the team can be proud of changes we’ve made ahead of the session. I’m optimistic as we’ve got a good tyre allocation for the race, and winds should be lower. We can definitely fight from here tomorrow."

Logan Sargeant – Sprint: 18th, Qualifying: 20th, 1:36.358

"Qualifying was frustrating as it was a good lap until the spin. The car was on edge in the high speed this afternoon especially over the bumps and changes in tarmac. Nonetheless, it could’ve been a much better session. We used the Sprint as a chance to get a good long run under our belts and from that made some minor changes ahead of Qualifying based on what we felt and what we want for tomorrow. So, we need to see how that plays out in the race. Realistically it’s not going to be easy, but we’ll give it our best go and see where that leaves us."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"We used today’s Sprint race to understand the tyre behaviour over a race stint and were able to use this experience to make some setup changes to the cars ahead of the Qualifying session. The setup changes, and the move to the Soft tyre compound, helped our performance in Qualifying. Both drivers showed decent pace in Q1, and it was a shame that Logan had a spin on his final lap in Q1. Alex was able to get through Q1 and qualify in P14, which is a fair result for where the FW46 currently is. Hopefully, the setup changes will improve our race pace too and we can then race the cars starting ahead of us."

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 leads Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes and Logan Sargeant of United States driving the (2) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

“The second day of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend was really busy with the new format providing plenty of interest for the spectators, who once again today packed out the grandstands. The Sprint Race clearly demonstrated the good performance level of the Medium tyre and thanks to Russell, we saw that the Soft cannot be discounted as a possible compound to use in the race. It could indeed be an ideal solution for the first stint for those wishing to pit early to exploit the undercut, which is very effective here, or maybe in the closing stages of the race to try and make up some places if a driver finds himself behind others on older and therefore less effective tyres.

“Considering the high level of degradation seen so far in yesterday’s free practice and today’s Sprint, a two-stop is clearly the quickest strategy. A mix of C3 and C2 is the best on paper but, as mentioned previously, the C4 could also come into play. In terms of wear, the tyre requiring the most care is the front left, but the rears could also be given a hard time.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from qualifying in China as Verstappen grabs pole and Sainz crashes



Coming Up

Coming Up


What the teams said – Qualifying in Imola