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Max starts Chinese GP from P1: 'Happy with how qualifying went'

Published on 20 April 2024 by Kees-Jan Koster

After Max Verstappen won the sprint race on Saturday morning dominantly, the reigning world champion also set the fastest time in qualifying for the race on Sunday. His fifth pole in a row and the one hundredth pole position for Red Bull Racing. On the 5.451-kilometre-long Shanghai International Circuit, Max’ teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, set the second fastest time, with Fernando Alonso in P3. The McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri completed the top five.

“The sprint race gave us a few more ideas for the car and the car worked even better in qualifying”, says Max after qualifying. “Very happy with how the whole of qualifying went, the car was really nice to drive and the final lap in Q3 felt really decent.”

Max continues: “I was happy to drive here in the dry, the conditions were pretty good, so it was a lot of fun.”

At the start of Q1 it is with 21 degrees quite a bit warmer than during the sprint race earlier in the day. There is even a bit of sun. When the lights go green at the end of the pitlane it immediately gets busy. Carlos Sainz surprisingly comes out on track on medium compound tyres. Max is in second position, after the first couple of timed laps, behind Alonso and in front of Lance Stroll. Halfway through Q1, Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon, Perez, Alex Albon, and Pierre Gasly find themselves in the drop zone.

Perez is running out of time when his time gets deleted because of track limits in turn one. The Mexican dodged the bullet and Logan Sargeant, Tsunoda, Lewis Hamilton, Guanyu Zhou and Kevin Magnussen drop out of qualifying.

Nico Hülkenberg is the first to come out on track at the start of Q2, he also sets the first time on the boards. After the first run in Q2, the top three is formed by Max, Norris and Piastri, while the drop zone is comprised of Albon, Esteban Ocon, Gasly, Sainz and Russell.

Sainz causes a red flag halfway through the session when he spins after exiting the last corner. The Spaniard goes wide, touches the gravel and spins across the track towards the tyre barriers on the other side of the track. He can continue back to the pits while the red flag is waved. There are still 6 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock.

When the track is cleared the car of Sainz seems all good to participate in the remainder of Q2. Russell, who is in last position, comes out on track first to try and get out of the drop zone. It looks like he is going to succeed when he puts his Mercedes in P3.

At the end of Q2 the following drivers drop out: Stroll, Ricciardo, Ocon, Albon and Gasly. The top three is formed by Max, Perez and Sainz.

At the start of Q3 everyone immediately comes out on track, except for the Sauber of Bottas. After the first run the top four is formed by Max, Alonso, Perez, and Norris. The Ferraris seem to be missing out.

Hülkenberg comes out first for the final and decisive run for pole. Russell moves surprisingly up into P3, after which Sainz and then Leclerc go into P2.  Not much later P2 is claimed by Alonso, but in the end, it is Perez who takes it. With Alonso in P3 and Norris in P4. With Verstappen even setting a faster time.

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

Results qualifying China:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:34.7421:33.7941:33.660
2Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:35.4571:34.0261:33.982
3Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:35.1161:34.6521:34.148
4Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:34.8421:34.4601:34.165
5Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:35.0141:34.6591:34.273
6Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:34.7971:34.3991:34.289
7Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:34.9701:34.3681:34.297
8George RussellRUSMercedes1:35.0841:34.6091:34.433
9Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:35.0681:34.6671:34.604
10Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:35.1691:34.7691:34.665
11Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:35.3341:34.838
12Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:35.4431:34.934
13Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:35.3561:35.223
14Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:35.3841:35.241
15Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:35.2871:35.463
16Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:35.505
17Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:35.516
18Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:35.573
19Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:35.746
20Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:36.358