F1 – Verstappen On Pole For Chinese Grand Prix Ahead Of Pérez And Alonso

Max Verstappen scored his fifth pole in five races and Red Bull’s 100th pole position with a dominant performance in qualifying for the 2024 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, beating Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez by three tenths of a second. Fernando Alonso took third place for Aston Martin.

It was Alonso who made the early running at the start of Q1, with the Spaniad taking top spot with a lap of 1:35.226. Verstappen’s first flying lap of qualifying for Sunday’s first Chinese Grand Prix since 2019 put the champion in second place, 0.055s behind the Aston Martin driver. Elsewhere, Pérez was forced wide on his opening lap when he came across a much slower Alex Albon, a moment that almost cost the Mexican dearly later on.

McLaren’s Piastri moved ahead of Alonso at the top of the order but he was quickly ousted by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who in turn was bumped out of top spot by McLaren’s Lando Norris who reset the bar at 1:34.842.

Sergio, meanwhile, was for another run but on what he later called “hot, used tyres” his first proper effort only put him sixth, 0.615s behind Norris’ pacesetting time. It led to a nervous final few minutes for the Mexican as a barrage of better final runs came in across the field.

At the top of that list of quicker times was Verstappen, whose second run vaulted him to top spot. The China Sprint winner posted a lap of 1:34.742 to progress to Q2 ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Norris.

Pérez, however, was in trouble. With the track ramping up swiftly and with a number of drivers making big leaps up the order, the Mexican driver slid to 15th at the end of the session. “That was close,” he said as he slipped through to second session just under five hundredths of a second ahead of Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu who was eliminated in P16.

But while Pérez was lucky to escape the drop, there was no such good fortune for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Behind 17th-place Kevin Magnussen of Haas, Lewis Hamilton dropped out in P18, ahead of RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant.

Verstappen maintained his grip on top spot at the start of the second session, with the Dutchman posting a strong opening lap of 1:33.946 to take spot, half a second ahead of Norris, with Piastri two tenths further back in third.

Pérez posted a lap of 1:34.883, putting him fifth behind Alonso and almost a second off Max, but as the Mexican crossed the line, Sainz was powering into the final corner. However, the Spaniard dipped the rear right wheel into the gravel and his Ferrari was immediately pitched into a 360 degree spin. He slid backwards into the barriers and the session was red-flagged. The Ferrari driver managed to get his car going again and under the red flag he limped back to the pits minus his front wing.

After an almost 10-minute halt to clear debris from Sainz’s crash, the session resumed with seven minutes left on the clock. Mercedes’ George Russell was first out on track and he jumped to P3 with a time of 1:34.609. Only Verstappen joined him on track at this stage and the champion extended his P1 advantage, posting a lap of 1:33.794 to sit 0.666s ahead of Norris.

Sainz, in his swiftly repaired Ferrari climbed to P2 in the closing moments of the session, ahead of team-mate Leclerc, but behind them Pérez was going quicker and the Mexican made it a one-two at the flag with a lap of 1:34.026 that put him more than three tenths clear of the Sainz.

Outside the top 10, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was eliminated in P11 ahead of fellow fallers Daniel Ricciardo of RB, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Williams’ Alex Albon and the second Alpine of Pierre Gasly.

In the final top-10 shootout, Verstappen Max stamped his authority on the timesheet in the first runs, setting a lap of 1:33.977 to beat Alonso by 0.394s. Pérez took third but was unhappy with a change to his front wing ahead of the session. Norris sat in fourth ahead of team-mate Piastri, with the McLarens ahead of the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc.

And in the final runs of the session Verstappen was untouchable. The Red Bull pairing were last out on track but while there was movement on the timesheet, with Alonso moving up the order to initially take P2 ahead of the McLarens and Ferrari, Verstappen was going quicker than his own opening run and when he crossed the line he improved to 1:33.660 to take Red Bull’s 100th pole and to become the first driver since Mika Häkkinen in 1999 to take pole in the opening five races of a season.

“Before I jumped in the car [before qualifying] Christian told me that if I got pole it would be 100 for the team and I thought ‘that’s nice, I’ll try, I’ll give it a good go’,” he said. “It’s an incredible achievement for the whole team. Of course there was a good contribution from Seb back in the day! It just shows that the car is really working well. It’s a good start to the year and I feel very confident in quali compared to last year.”

Behind him, Pérez also improved but he finished two tenths off Verstappen as he took the 12th front row start of his career and his second of the season so far. Alonso finished third ahead of Norris and Piastri, while Sainz and Leclerc will line up on row three ahead of Russell, Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg and Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas.

2024 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:33.660 – –
2 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 1:33.982 0.322 0.344
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:34.148 0.488 0.521
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:34.165 0.505 0.539
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:34.273 0.613 0.654
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:34.289 0.629 0.672
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:34.297 0.637 0.680
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:34.433 0.773 0.825
27 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:34.604 0.944 1.008
10 Valtteri Bottas Kick Sauber 1:34.665 1.005 1.073
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:34.838 1.178 1.258
12 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:34.934 1.274 1.360
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:35.223 1.563 1.669
14 Alexander Albon Williams 1:35.241 1.581 1.688
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:35.463 1.803 1.925
16 Zhou Guanyu Kick Sauber 1:35.505 1.845 1.970
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:35.516 1.856 1.982
18 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.573 1.913 2.042
19 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:35.746 2.086 2.227
20 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:36.358 2.698 2.881

Bookmark the permalink.