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Max wins sprint race in China: 'The first few laps were quite hectic'

Published on 20 April 2024 by Kees-Jan Koster

After starting from fourth position on the grid, Max Verstappen won the first sprint race of the season in China dominantly. Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes finished second and Max’ teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, finished in P3. The two Ferraris completed the top five.

“The first few laps were quite hectic, they were pushing quite hard at the front”, says Max after the sprint race in China. “I had Carlos behind me on new tyres, but after a couple of laps we became stronger and a bit more comfortable with the balance of the car, so I could look after my tyres.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend, Max says: “Qualifying is of course important to get a good starting position, that will help a lot in the first few laps. The wind is changing a lot and that makes it quite difficult to drive.”

At the start of the race it is cloudy, everyone starts on medium compound tyres, except for George Russell. Russell starts on soft tyres. When the lights go off, Norris loses everything in the first corner when Lewis Hamilton pushes him wide, and Norris falls back a couple of places. Alonso moves up into P2 followed by Max. The world champion cannot keep up at first and is followed closely by Carlos Sainz. “Why is my battery flat?” asks Max over the radio.

After four laps the gap to the Spaniard has increased a bit and Max starts to close in on Alonso. With only nineteen laps in the sprint race there is not a lot of time to make up places. But at the start of lap seven is Max within DRS range of Alonso. While the gap between Hamilton and Alonso has increased to 1.7 seconds. The first attempt to overtake Alonso is immediately successful and Max starts his hunt for Hamilton.

The gap to Hamilton is shrinking rapidly and it does not take long for Max to be right behind the rear wing of the Mercedes. And again, at the first attempt Max overtakes Hamilton and moves up into the lead.

Max quickly increases the gap to Hamilton and Alonso can keep Sainz and the others behind, resulting in an interesting fight for P3. In the lead, Max is more than a second faster than everyone else.

With five laps to go Max has disappeared over the horizon, but the fight for P3 is exciting. Hamilton has a firm grip on P2, while Perez seems to be in a difficult position with Charles Leclerc behind.

When Sainz attempts to overtake Alonso for P3, Perez manages to get past both Spaniards. Alonso and Sains pay the price. Sains falls back into P5 and Alonso even has to retire his car with a puncture.

In the last lap Max is more than twelve seconds ahead of Hamilton. Behind the Brit Perez finishes in P3. Max Verstappen wins his seventh sprint race and gains eight points for the championship.

Contest GP China: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results sprint race China:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1932:04.6608
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes19+13.043s7
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT19+15.258s6
4Charles LeclercLECFerrari19+17.486s5
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari19+20.696s4
6Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes19+22.088s3
7Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes19+24.713s2
8George RussellRUSMercedes19+25.696s1
9Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari19+31.951s0
10Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari19+37.398s0
11Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT19+37.840s0
12Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari19+38.295s0
13Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault19+39.841s0
14Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes19+40.299s0
15Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault19+40.838s0
16Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT19+41.870s0
17Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes19+42.998s0
18Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes19+46.352s0
19Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari19+49.630s0
20Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes17DNF0