Formula 1

Chinese F1 Grand Prix qualifying: latest updates from Shanghai

Chinese F1 Grand Prix qualifying: latest updates from Shanghai

Max Verstappen won the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix sprint race – Getty Images/Lars Baron

06:49 AM BST

Sprint race recap: Verstappen fights back from fourth to win

Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen won the first sprint race of the Formula One season at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Dutch 26-year-old beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 13.043 seconds in the 19-lap race at the Shanghai International Circuit to stretch his championship lead over team mate Sergio Perez, who finished third.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fourth and fifth.

McLaren’s Lando Norris started on pole position but ran wide on the opening lap as he battled with Hamilton and ended up sixth. Team mate Oscar Piastri was seventh and Mercedes’ George Russell eighth for the final point.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix starts at 8am BST later today.

05:00 AM BST

OK, that wraps it up for the sprint race coverage

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix begins at 8am BST later this morning. We will be here for all the build-up to that from around an hour before.

04:55 AM BST

Leclerc not massively happy with Sainz

Let’s speak. We’re fighting more. He’s fighting more me than the others, but anyway.

04:55 AM BST

Was that a good sprint race?

Yeah, not bad at all.

The start of the sprint race

The sprint races would obviously be better if Verstappen was so far ahead of everyone else. But sprint qualifying and this is much, much better than having another two practice sessions. Is six of them too many for a season of 24 races? Perhaps, but not by a great deal.

04:52 AM BST

The Leclerc/Sainz incident…

…will not be looked at by the stewards. It was the battle at the end of this clip. That makes Nico Rosberg slightly perplexed.

04:46 AM BST

Hamilton reacts to a strong if distant second

That’s the best result I’ve had in a long time, of course I’m super, super happy and grateful. This is a huge step and huge improvement. The race was tough and of course if I was further back I would have struggled to progress. I found out a lot about the car about from this short stint. I still think we’re not as quick on a single lap as obviously the Ferraris, the Red Bulls, the McLarens are ahead of us for sure. I don’t anticipate we will be fighting for the front row… hopefully I can improve the car in the next few hours and have a better qualifying [than we’ve had].

04:44 AM BST

Verstappen reacts to his win

The first few laps were quite hectic, they were pushing quite hard at front and I had Carlos behind with new tyres… we became stronger and also I felt a bit more comfortable with the balance of the car and I could look after my tyres. Qualifying is of course important to get a good starting position that will help on the first few laps. The wind is changing every day.

04:40 AM BST

A few platitudes from Hamilton on the radio

Yeah, great job guys. Let’s just keep pushing.

That car could not have done any better today. Russell only finished eighth, so there you go. Hamilton’s best day of the season by a pretty long way. Can he convert that into a good result in the grand prix tomorrow? It’ll be hard.

04:38 AM BST

Chinese GP sprint classification

  • VER

  • HAM

  • PER

  • LEC

  • SAI

  • NOR

  • PIA

  • RUS

  • Zhou in ninth. A good result but no points.

    04:37 AM BST


    Was it ever in doubt? Well, for a few laps – yes. Hamilton takes a very good second, Perez finishes off the sprint podium.

    04:36 AM BST


    The biggest battle here is for fifth between Norris and Sainz ahead. Hamilton is 12 seconds behind but it looks like he is going to record his best result of the season by far. Perez is 2.5sec behind so it would need a mistake from Hamilton to stop that.

    After a tough first few laps Verstappen has, again, been in a class of one. Good for him but rather depressing for the sport.

    04:35 AM BST

    Lap 18 of 19 – Charles Leclerc unhappy with his team-mate

    “What the f—?!” he says on the radio. Alonso is told to retire the car. Not that it makes any difference as he was in last after his pit stop. Fair enough. Hopefully no lasting damage that compromises his qualifying.

    04:33 AM BST

    Lap 17 of 19 – Leclerc gets Sainz for fourth

    Sainz was perhaps over the limit according to Nico Rosberg. Either way it’s Leclerc who is ahead. Over the limit when it comes to racing with your team-mate he means, rather than just getting a penalty.

    Verstappen leads by 10 seconds now. Hamilton has done a fine job in second. Perez is four seconds behind him so it should be a safe second.

    04:32 AM BST

    Lap 16 of 19 – It’s a variety of lines in T1 and T2 for Alonso, Sainz, Perez and Leclerc

    It’s a fantastic battle between Alonso and Sainz throughout the first part of the lap. Alonso is struggling for grip here but just will not give up! Sainz looks like he has the move done but his compatriot does not budge. This gives Perez the chance to dive through and the Mexican is up to third!  Now the two Ferraris are at it!

    Alonso and Sainz definitely touched and it looks like Alonso has a puncture and he dives into the pit lane!

    04:30 AM BST

    Lap 15 of 19 – It’s getting tight for third

    Just 1.4sec between Alonso in third and Leclerc in sixth…

    Alonso under extreme pressure behind. Perez says he doesn’t have any traction but he is not far from Sainz ahead. Norris has just been dropped slightly from that chasing pack.

    Leclerc tries another move around the outside of Perez at the hairpin but again locks up! Good defensive driving from the Red Bull driver.

    Verstappen now leads Hamilton by eight seconds.

    04:28 AM BST

    Lap 14 of 19 – Verstappen has checked out

    He leads by 6.1sec. Just as Perez cannot find a way past Sainz, Sainz cannot find a way past Alonso ahead. The Aston Martin looks pretty slippery down the straight. Leclerc attempts a move on Perez at the hairpin, though cannot make it stick.

    04:27 AM BST

    Lap 13 of 19 – I wonder if a Red Bull 1-2 is the most likely result now

    Perez would have to overtake Sainz, Alonso and Hamilton in the next seven laps. It’s doable but difficult. Perez can keep up with Sainz easily but he has not easily been able to pass.

    Ferrari’s Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr (bottom) drives in front of Red Bull Racing’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez during the sprint session ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024

    04:25 AM BST

    Lap 12 of 19 – Verstappen a second a lap faster than Hamilton now

    Alonso not really able to hang onto the back of Hamilton, lapping at aroudn the same pace. Sainz is being a bit of a blocker at the moment, Perez with the superior pace behind but he cannot yet find a way past. Sainz locked up on the previous lap.

    04:24 AM BST

    Lap 11 of 19 – Verstappen now leads by 3.1sec

    This is pretty ominous for tomorrow’s race. Not sure what the competitive order here is really as we were a bit jumbled up yesterday. Norris in seventh is stuck in a bit of a DRS train but Piastri is miles behind him and Norris should be good for the two points. Russell putting pressure on Piastri, though. Those soft tyres are doing quite well for him so far.

    04:22 AM BST

    Lap 10 of 19 – It was a big lock-up the lap before

    Probably cost him almost half a second. He didn’t exactly fight the move with Verstappen on the next lap all that hard, leaving the door ajar. I think, in any case, it was a matter of time but it would have been nicer coming on lap 14 rather than nine.

    Now Verstappen has clean air he has putting in astonishingly quick laps – he now leads by 2.1sec.

    04:20 AM BST

    Lap 9 of 19 – Verstappen on the back of Hamilton here

    Will Hamilton fight it? Will Verstappen get fighty and aggressive. He gets a bit squirmy on the exit of the long right-hander before the back straight but he will get DRS and surely gets the move done. Yes, he does.

    A bit earlier in the lap he told Peter Bonnington, his race engineer, to let him get on with it as he could see Verstappen in his mirrors.

    Verstappen leads.

    04:19 AM BST

    Lap 8 of 19 – Top eight and gaps

  • HAM

  • VER +0.7

  • ALO +2.8

  • SAI +3.4

  • PER +4.0

  • LEC +4.8

  • NOR +5.3

  • PIA +10.1

  • Hamilton has gone deep at the hairpin though allowing Verstappen to close up! This is almost a done deal, you feel. Sadly.

    04:17 AM BST

    Lap 7 of 19 – Verstappen into second

    He gets DRS on the back straight and passes Alonso as easy as you like. I would definitely put Verstappen as the favourite here now. That is not a hard decision. Hamilton’s pace is still OKish but Verstappen was 0.4sec faster the last time around. He’s not happy with how the car is in the low speed corners.

    04:15 AM BST

    Lap 6 of 19 – Hamilton leads Alonso by 1.7sec

    Verstappen has almost got to within DRS range of Alonso ahead but his pace advantage isn’t exactly massive. About a third of the way to go. Is Verstappen now favourite? Just, I think.

    04:14 AM BST

    Lap 5 of 19 – Hamilton’s pace is good

    He extends his lead over Alonso to more than 1.5sec. Verstappen hasn’t closed massively on Alonso in the last lap or so. Zhou is just out of the points in ninth and Norris, the pole man, is down in seventh after a rocky start.

    Hamilton looking in good form here.

    Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the sprint session ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024

    04:11 AM BST

    Lap 4 of 19 – Top 8

  • HAM

  • ALO

  • VER

  • SAI

  • PER

  • LEC

  • NOR

  • PIA

  • Verstappen sets the fastest lap of the race so maybe he has solved his issues. He has gapped Sainz by 1.4sec so whatever they have done on the engine modes seems to have worked. Alonso 1.3sec behind Hamilton but Verstappen is going to be closing them down pretty soon I think.

    04:10 AM BST

    Lap 3 of 19 – Verstappen not happy

    “Why is my battery flat?” he says. “Mode 8,” he is told. Russell up to 10th with a move on Magnussen.

    04:09 AM BST

    Lap 2 of 19 – Hamilton leads Alonso

    It’s all pretty close at the front. Looking at the replays Norris got slightly bogged down and then Hamilton squeezed Norris and then he had nowhere to go. Legitimate racing, I think. Not sure if Hamilton ran wide intentionally or just ran out of grip.

    Sainz is on the back of Verstappen now, who has dropped back a bit from the leaders. Not sure if he made a mistake or his tyres are just coming to temperature. Sainz locks up into the hairpin which won’t help his case but Verstappen is struggling here.

    04:07 AM BST

    The 2024 Chinese GP sprint is go!

    It’s a great start from Hamilton but Norris’s first few corners is pretty disastrous! Hamilton has the inside line at turn one but it’s a long, long turn and Norris tries to stick it around the outside to keep the inside for turn two but he runs otu fo space and drops all the way back to seventh!

    Hamilton leads Alonso and Verstappen. It’s then Sainz, Perez and Leclerc.

    Sainz has a look at Verstappen at the hairpin but the Dutchman is a difficult proposition when it comes to overtaking and he drives a wide car.

    19 laps to go.

    04:02 AM BST

    The formation lap is go

    And everyone is away. A bit of a dodgy start for Norris. He will be hoping for betting when the real thing comes along…

    04:00 AM BST

    Starting tyre types

    It’s mediums for everyone but George Russell.

    03:58 AM BST

    Right, not too long to go

    Here’s a reminder of the grid:

    1. NOR 2. HAM
    3. ALO 4. VER
    5. SAI 6. PER
    7. LEC 8. PIA
    9. BOT 10. ZHO
    11. RUS 12. MAG
    13. HUL 14. RIC
    15. STR 16. GAS
    17. OCO 18. ALB
    18. TSU 20. SAR

    03:48 AM BST

    A reminder that it’s championship points for the top eight

    Eight for the winner down to one for the eighth-placed man. It doesn’t really make a great deal of difference to those at the front but for a team like Haas or Sauber – who have two cars in the top 10 today – it does. Haas have had a decent start to the season with a few points finishes but Sauber have been poor and are pointless. Can Bottas or Zhou get pick up some today? A Zhou points finish would be popular…

    03:41 AM BST

    Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer speaks to Sky Sports

    I think it’s going to be a bit of a struggle with track temp. A little bit of sunshine is going to push it one way or another.

    The sun is shining… just about. Looks like a decent attendance which hasn’t always been the case here. It hasn’t been terrible, for a while, though. Attendances up everywhere, really.

    03:39 AM BST

    A bit of a confusing end to sprint qualifying yesterday

    That’s good, though. I’m pretty excited for turn one today.

    03:34 AM BST

    The pit lane is open

    And drivers are making their laps to the grid. It’s dry out there today and with almost no chance of rain. Doesn’t mean we won’t get a good sprint race, but it does make Max Verstappen’s run to the front a lot more likely. He starts fourth today.

    03:32 AM BST

    Times and positions after sprint qualifying

  • Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1min 57.940secs

  • Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:59.201

  • Fernando Alonso (Spa) Aston Martin 1:59.915

  • Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 2:00.028

  • Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 2:00.214

  • Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 2:00.375

  • Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 2:00.566

  • Oscar Piastri (Aus) McLaren 2:00.990

  • Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Kick Sauber 2:01.044

  • Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Kick Sauber 2:03.537

  • George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:36.345

  • Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:36.473

  • Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Haas F1 1:36.478

  • Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) RB 1:36.553

  • Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:36.677

  • Pierre Gasly (Fra) Alpine 1:37.632

  • Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:37.720

  • Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:37.812

  • Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) RB 1:37.892

  • Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams 1:37.923,

  • 03:24 AM BST

    Good morning F1 fans

    It’s a very early start once again, though hopefully one worth getting up for. F1 returns to China for the first running of the Chinese Grand Prix since 2019 and yesterday’s running did not disappoint. The drivers only had a single hour of practice before jumping into qualifying for today’s sprint race. Not many of them were all that happy about it, but so what. You are the best drivers in the world, so deal with it.

    In any case, this lack of familiarity with the Shanghai International Circuit was not what created an entertaining sprint qualifying, it was the rain. Just before SQ1 it started spitting. The drivers got through on slick tyres for that session before it started pelting it down in SQ2. George Russell did not put in a first lap good enough to make the top 10 and the weather meant it was impossible to improve. And so he was out.

    By the start of SQ3 the conditions were poor. Not poor enough for full wet tyres admittedly but difficult enough for several drivers to run off. Charles Leclerc spun his Ferrari into the barriers but luckily the damage to his front wing was not significant to end his session. Even Max Verstappen struggled with the conditions, having a couple of offs, running into the gravel in the final corner.

    In the final reckoning it was Lando Norris who crossed the line fastest, though with some confusion. Initially his fastest lap was shown as deleted for exceeding track limits at the final turn meaning his following lap – which was shown as fast enough to beat Hamilton – was also discounted. But just as it looked Hamilton had secured top spot, Norris’s lap was reinstated to slight confusion.

    It’s Norris, Hamilton, Alonso and Verstappen on the front two rows for the sprint race, which begins at 4am. We will be here for that as well as qualifying for the main grand prix later this morning. Let’s hope it’s as good as yesterday.

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