F1 – Verstappen Wins Action-Packed Chinese Grand Prix Ahead Of Norris, Pérez

F1 – Verstappen Wins Action-Packed Chinese Grand Prix Ahead Of Norris, Pérez

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took a superbly controlled victory in an action-packed Chinese Grand Prix that featured two Safety Cars, with McLaren’s Lando Norris taking a well-worked second place ahead of Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull.

When the lights went out at the start, Verstappen reacted quickest and the Dutchman took the lead on the run to Turn 1. On the other side of the grid, Pérez’s getaway was poor and he was immediately put under pressure by Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard got ahead around the outside of the long sweep of Turns 1 and 2 and though Pérez tried to fight back, Alonso shut the door hard into Turn 3 to hold second place Ahead, Verstappen was making the most of the clean air and by the end of lap one the Red Bull driver was 1.6s ahead of Alonso, with Pérez just under a second behind the Spanish driver and 1.5s ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Pérez was on the hunt, however, and on lap five he made his move, diving up the inside of Alonso’s Aston into Turn 6 to steal second place. Alonso, aware that he was putting too much strain on his tyres didn’t put up a huge amount of resistance.

Norris, told that Alonso was stressing his tyres, smelled blood and the McLaren driver quickly closed up to the Aston and on lap seven muscled his way past into the hairpin to take P3. Further back, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was also on the move, taking sixth place from Mercedes’ George Russell on lap nine and then dismissing McLaren’s Oscar Piastri on lap 12 to rise to fourth.

At the end of lap 12, Alonso and Russell were the first of the leading pack to make pit stops, and their stops sparked the other top 10 runners into action. On lap 14 both Red Bulls pitted in a stacked stop, leaving Norris to take over at the head of the field. Verstappen rejoined in P3 behind Leclerc, while Pérez emerged in sixth behind Sainz.

McLaren and Ferrari opted to keep their drivers on track, however, and with Leclerc potentially targeting a one-stop race and running almost two seconds a lap slower than Verstappen, there was no holding the champion back and on lap 16 he pushed past the Ferrari to take P2. And three laps later he was back in the lead, powering past Norris on the run to the hairpin. Further back, Pérez passed Sainz on the exit of Turn 14 to take fourth place behind Leclerc.

However, on lap 22 Valtteri Bottas suffered engine failure and parked his Kick Sauber in an escape road. The incident resulted in the Virtual Safety Car being deployed and Leclerc dived into the pits for a set of Hard tyres. It looked like Norris, who passed the pit entrance just as the VSC arrived, would be disadvantaged, but with Bottas’ car stuck in gear and with marshals struggling to move it, Norris was able to pit on the following lap for Hard tyres.

With Bottas’ car proving immovable, the physical Safety Car was then released and the bulk of the field took the opportunity to pit. The Red Bulls, with their lead wiped out, pitted again  and Verstappen took up the lead behind the Safety Car. However, Pérez was jumped by Norris and Leclerc who both had stopped under the earlier VSC. The Mexican, who sat in fourth ahead of Sainz, Alonso and Russell, was now faced with a fight to the flag.

The Safety Car left the circuit at the end of lap 26 and Verstappen controlled the restart well, dropping the throttle in Turn 14 and powering away as a slower Norris was in the middle of the hairpin.

Further back, though, there was trouble. With the cars bunching into Turn 14 at the restart, RB’s Daniel Ricciardo was forced to brake hard but clipped McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. The result was that Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll ploughed into the rear of the Ricciardo’s RB. Stroll and Ricciardo were able to continue but when a handful of corners later the other RB of Yuki Tsunoda was hit by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and spun off, the Safety Car had to be deployed for a second time. Ricciardo would eventually be forced to retire, while Stroll and Magnussen were handed 10-second time penalties for causing the incidents.

The SC left the track for the second time at the end of lap 31 and once again Verstappen used the hairpin for the restart. He comfortably pulled away from Norris and Leclerc on exit.

Behind him Norris was solid in second place but Leclerc began to come under pressure from Pérez. On lap 39, the Mexican made his move, ambushing Leclerc on the inside on the entry to Turn 6.

Norris, though, had used the intervening laps well and had carved out a five-second gap in P2. Pérez tried to reel in Norris but the Red Bull driver had taken too much out of his tyres in the battle with Leclerc and he couldn’t make any impression on the gap Norris had constructed.

At the front Verstappen was in cruise control and though there was concern at one point that he had run over debris, after 56 superbly controlled laps he took his fourth win of the season with 13.7s in hand over Norris, Pérez took a solid third ahead of the Ferraris while George Russell finished sixth for Mercedes ahead of Alonso. Piastri finished eighth in the second McLaren ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and the final point on offer was taken by Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg.

2024 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix – Race 
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 56 1:40’52.554
2 Lando Norris McLaren 56 1:41’06.327 13.773
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 56 1:41’11.714 19.160
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 56 1:41’16.177 23.623
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 56 1:41’26.537 33.983
6 George Russell Mercedes 56 1:41’31.278 38.724
7 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 56 1:41’35.968 43.414
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren 56 1:41’48.752 56.198
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 1:41’50.540 57.986
10 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 56 1:41’53.030 1’00.476
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine 56 1:41’55.366 1’02.812
12 Alexander Albon Williams 56 1:41’58.060 1’05.506
13 Pierre Gasly Alpine 56 1:42’01.777 1’09.223
14 Zhou Guanyu Kick Sauber 56 1:42’04.243 1’11.689
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 56 1:42’15.340 1’22.786
16 20  Kevin Magnussen Haas 56 1:42’20.087 1’27.533
17 2  Logan Sargeant Williams 56 1:42’27.664 1’35.110
Daniel Ricciardo RB 33 1:03’17.069 Accident damage
Yuki Tsunoda RB RBPT 26 48’07.215 Accident
Valtteri Bottas Kick Sauber 19 32’58.520 Engine

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