Chinese Grand Prix | Max Verstappen gives Red Bull 100th lead

(Shanghai) Perfect day for the unbeatable Mad Max. Formula 1 World Championship leader Max Verstappen (Red Bull) took the lead in the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday, a few hours after winning the sprint race on the Shanghai track.

The Dutchman will start a Grand Prix for the fifth time this season in as many meetings and gives Red Bull its 100e leading position in F1 – the first having been won here in 2009 by the future quadruple German champion Sebastian Vettel.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for the entire team […]it’s fantastic,” reacted the three-time reigning world champion, who is now aiming for a fourth Grand Prix victory this year.

In front of packed stands for the return of the Chinese event after five years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Verstappen beat his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez and 42-year-old Spanish veteran Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) on Saturday. .


From left to right: Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso

“We may still be the fourth or fifth fastest team in the field, but today’s result shows that we are still fighting to do better,” said “Nando”. He signs his best qualification in China since June 2023 (in Canada).

Fear for Sainz

Briton Lando Norris will accompany Alonso on the second row on Sunday. He will be followed by his Australian McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri and Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), sixth.

The other Ferrari, that of Carlos Sainz, will start seventh. The Spaniard suffered a big scare when he hit a wall at high speed during Q2, the second part of qualifying, damaging the front of his Ferrari.

However, he took advantage of the interruption of the session necessary to clean the track, in order to change the nose of his SF-24 and ensure he could compete for a place in the top 10synonymous with moving into Q3 where the leading position was fought over.

Hamilton’s poor performance

Earlier in the day, Verstappen won the sprint race ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton, who had a terrible performance during qualifying.

The Mercedes driver, second in this 19-lap race contested on Saturday morning, will only start 18e Sunday, after his worst qualifying since 2022.

“We knew that qualifying would be much more difficult this afternoon,” admitted the seven-time world champion. “I made some big changes after the sprint to try and improve the car in the low speed corners. It wasn’t too bad in some corners, but I struggled elsewhere,” he explained.

Sprint poleman Lando Norris, however, did not resist Hamilton’s assault for long: second on the starting grid, the seven-time world champion took control of the race from the first corner, while Norris tumbled at 7e place after making a mistake.

Chased by the ogre Verstappen halfway through the race, Hamilton finally gave up the lead in the sprint without much resistance.

Thanks to his victory, Max Verstappen recovered eight additional points in the championship and widens the gap with his pursuer Pérez, 3e of the sprint race. Fifteen points now separate the Dutchman from the Mexican.

The Chinese Grand Prix is ​​the first of six rounds of the year to feature a sprint format, which changes the course of the weekend.

Thus, the drivers only completed one free practice session on Friday before qualifying which determined the grid for the sprint race.

On a circuit which significantly deteriorates the rubber, thus reducing grip, the Red Bull boss said before the start of the weekend that he expected Ferrari “to probably be [sa] closest competitor” since the Italian team has already shown itself to be particularly efficient on this type of terrain.

“We’re starting from a blank slate because we haven’t been here for five years, so we’ve never driven cars with ground effect”, dating from 2022, Ferrari boss Frédéric Vasseur preferred to temper. , interviewed Friday by AFP. Answer Sunday.

Consult the starting grid

source site-62