Verstappen eases to F1 Chinese GP win

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-21 19:17
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Drivers and racing team representatives pose for photos during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, in April 2024. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/]

SHANGHAI -- Red Bull's Max Verstappen made it four wins from five Grands Prix in 2024, shrugging off two Safety Car restarts with a consummate victory in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.

Verstappen had also won Saturday morning's Sprint event in dominant fashion, and continued his good form into Sunday's Grand Prix, which he started from his customary pole position.

The Dutchman's dominance at the Shanghai International Circuit was occasionally threatened by the curveball of two Safety Car deployments, as several drivers made contact as they jostled for position at the first restart.

The twin RBs of Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda both came to grief in the pandemonium, with Ricciardo suffering damage as the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll ran into him at the hairpin, while Tsunoda was forced to retire after having been tagged by Kevin Magnussen's Haas.

But while chaos occasionally reigned behind him, Verstappen continued serenely at the front, losing his lead only during the pit stop cycles and never appearing threatened as he cruised to victory.

"It felt amazing. The whole weekend we were incredibly quick. Just enjoyable to drive on every compound," said Verstappen.

"We survived the restarts well and the car was basically on rails and I could do whatever I wanted with it.

"Those kinds of weekends are amazing to feel and to achieve what we did this weekend is fantastic."

Behind Verstappen, a stellar drive from Lando Norris saw the Briton finish second after making up places by pitting during a Virtual Safety Car period to clear Valtteri Bottas' stricken Sauber.

Having vaulted Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez in the pits, Norris then managed his tyres well to keep his place and score his and McLaren's best result of 2024, extending his dubious F1 record of the most podium finishes without a Grand Prix win.

Perez settled for third after falling from second to fourth during the Safety Car period, and then seemed to struggle with his tyres in the closing stages, ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who also made up places with a Virtual Safety Car pit stop.

Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz took fifth, with George Russell the first of the Mercedes in sixth place.

Fernando Alonso faded to seventh from third on the grid after struggling with tyre wear and making three pit stops instead of two, though the Spaniard at least took home the bonus point for fastest lap.

In eighth was Norris' teammate Oscar Piastri, who lost time with damage to his diffuser after having been rear-ended as the cars bunched during the end of the first Safety Car period on lap 26.

Lewis Hamilton finished ninth on an off-key day for the Briton, who was extremely critical of his first set of tyres, while Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten to score another useful point for Haas.

Further down the field, Zhou Guanyu finished outside the points in 14th, but his every move was cheered to the echo by a partisan local crowd, who were witnessing a Chinese driver in a Chinese Grand Prix for the first time, and the Sauber driver was visibly emotional as he climbed out of his car after the race.

Verstappen's win sees him extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship, and the Dutchman now has 110 points. Perez is second on 85 points, with Leclerc third on 76.

In the Constructors' standings, Red Bull's total now stands at 195 points, with Ferrari second on 151, and McLaren consolidating third with 96 points.

The sixth round of the 2024 Formula One World Championship is the Miami Grand Prix on May 5.

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