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Formula 1

Winners and losers from F1's 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

6 min read

The first Chinese Grand Prix might have featured a runaway winner - just as its sprint race counterpart did a day earlier - but that doesn't mean the first Formula 1 race weekend at Shanghai for five years was a dud.

Here's our pick of who should be most pleased and a rather more substantial list of those left reflecting on a disappointing weekend.


Lando Norris

A sublime drive overwriting the pain of the sprint - and showing, maybe for the first time this season, that McLaren can actually live up to those lofty pre-season expectations.

Oscar Piastri's damage inflated the gap between the two cars by the end, but Norris really had his number all weekend in race trim anyway, extending stints wonderfully to set up an ending in which he wasn't even really under threat from two nominally quicker cars behind him.

No wonder Red Bull's Helmut Marko refuses to give up on the idea of having him in the car one day. - Valentin Khorounzhiy

Max Verstappen

Another imperious Max Verstappen walkover, but one that came with the added bonus of accentuating the difference he is making in a dominant but not impervious Red Bull.

It exists firmly in the realm of the hypothetical, but you get the feeling Verstappen would've done what Sergio Perez could not after that mid-race stoppage that didn't favour Red Bull had he been in Perez's shoes.

The evidence that Verstappen, unlike Perez, was always going to finish ahead of all the rival cars was there in his qualifying performance, in the ease with which fourth place in the sprint became first place in the sprint, and in his pace relative to Perez even once his team-mate had re-overtaken Fernando Alonso in that opening stint.

The Red Bull RB20 was always going to win a whole, whole lot of races, no matter which established/proven driver was behind the wheel. But Verstappen is allowing Red Bull, time and time again, to win with that extra layer of comfort, even when race circumstances throw a spanner in the works. - VK

Nico Hulkenberg

"Good job, guys. Solid race. Not very spectacular but yeah, better one [point] than none, right?"

One point is definitely better than none right now for Hulkenberg and Haas in an F1 midfield that, Australian GP aside, has been starved of opportunities to score so far in 2024.

It also continues a far more impressive start than expected for a team that many thought might still be adrift at the back of that pack at this point in the year. Instead, it's scored in three of five grands prix - as has Hulkenberg, who only managed that once all season in 2023.

Haas might've been a little disappointed it didn't make the final part of sprint qualifying on Friday but given there were no points on offer for the midfield in that race it had a chance to reset for qualifying proper and the main event.

The team and Hulkenberg made the most of that - Hulkenberg welcomed the change to parc ferme rules that are part of this year's sprint weekend format changes - second chance by ensuring they were first in line to scoop up anything on offer if anyone among the 'big five' hit trouble. - Jack Cozens


Daniel Ricciardo

This was a really good weekend for Ricciardo, but even before the calamitous Lance Stroll collision that he felt "ruined" his race, it was already looking like a losing battle.

RB clearly didn't quite have the pace to be a points car on merit this weekend - the only chance it would've had required something like, well, that Ricciardo/Stroll accident. But even if that happened to someone else, Ricciardo was staying out there on that restart with worn medium rubber against a pack of chasers on fresher, harder rubber.

All that was hardly his fault, though, and what will matter as a takeaway is that at every step of the way he was one-upping team-mate Yuki Tsunoda this weekend - even if he has nothing to show for it in the results column or the championship standings.

He's also already compromised his Miami GP weekend with a very understandable penalty for overtaking Nico Hulkenberg under the safety car - even if it means he's effectively been punished much worse for his relatively minor faux-pas than Stroll has been for taking him out of the race. - VK

Lance Stroll

A patchy weekend denied redemption by the clumsy mistake that drew understandable ire from Ricciardo.

Stroll's onboard makes what happened pretty clear, and his lack of contrition for his role in the restart accident will deny him the grace the particular nature of the crash perhaps warrants.

He was going to score points anyway, but in hindsight that's more of an indictment than an excuse, after two qualifying sessions during the weekend in which he went out in Q2 while team-mate Fernando Alonso dragged the car close to the front of the grid. - VK


Ferrari's weekend is probably most memorable for its two drivers repeatedly tripping over each other - and Carlos Sainz's qualifying crash and comeback on Saturday - but behind all that lied an underwhelming performance that the specific dramas weren't quite enough to excuse.

Leclerc's Chinese GP looked like it was going to come to life in a feisty start to his first stint, but he didn't have the measure of Lando Norris' McLaren, and could not capitalise on Sergio Perez's 'extra' pistop the way Norris did.

"It just hasn't been a very good weekend for us as a team," summed up Sainz, who continued to give Leclerc a hard time over one lap in Shanghai but looked distinctly second-best in race trim.

"We were just not strong enough as a team." - VK

Fernando Alonso

Seven more points including a fastest lap to boot for Alonso, for an Aston Martin team that he says "we see every Sunday that we are the fifth fastest team".

So why the losers' entry? Put simply, there was far more on offer this weekend.

Sure, his exit from the sprint race was an unfortunate consequence of his nonetheless robust attempt to get back ahead of Carlos Sainz for third in the sprint, and Alonso might well have been just as blunt privately as he was publicly about the insignificance of the points he lost there. He does, after all, crave more than what he's fighting for right now.

But that still represented a decent points haul that went begging, and that's before you get into Aston's strategy around the safety car pitstops in the grand prix. It makes more sense now Alonso's had the chance to explain it - he simply didn't have another set of hard tyres - but might going for mediums first instead of softs have got him to the end considering the subsequent second safety car intervention?

His drive back through to seventh was entertaining, and Alonso seems happy enough with that considering where Aston finds itself. But Mercedes is there for the taking and right now Aston - which, it must be said, is being hindered more by the other car underachieving - isn't making the most of that chance. - JC


Another race weekend in which Sauber has looked a marginal points contender - perhaps even better than that in some moments - ends with its potential so clearly unrealised.

Valtteri Bottas was probably going to end up just outside the points had the race run as normal without his engine shutting off - but, again, didn't get to capitalise on others' misfortune because his and his team's misfortune came first.

At least it wasn't the pitstops this time, but Sauber has now dropped to last in the constructors' standings, with both Williams and Alpine also on no points but ahead on best result tiebreak.

It's a bit of a silver lining - but also a bit of insult added to injury - that the Sauber is clearly better than those two cars. - VK

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