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Formula 1

Verstappen takes crushing Chinese GP pole, Hamilton out in Q1

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Max Verstappen secured Red Bull its 100th Formula 1 pole position by crushing the opposition in grand prix qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Verstappen maintained his 100% grand prix pole record in 2024 and took top spot with ease, leaving the scramble for second place the main fight of qualifying.

Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was nearly knocked out in Q1 - he was safe by only 0.048 seconds - but he recovered strongly to join Verstappen on the front row, albeit still 0.322s adrift.

Perez denied Fernando Alonso a spot on the front row while McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri had to settle for fourth and fifth after the former's sprint race pole heroics on Friday.

Sainz makes it to Q3 via crash

Sainz's scrappiest day of an otherwise stellar 2024 season continued when he ran wide at the reprofiled final corner and spun on the outside kerb in the middle of Q2.

That speared his Ferrari towards the wall, breaking his front wing and bringing out the red flag while he was initially stranded.

He managed to get his car running again and got it back to the pits with six minutes on the clock when Q2 restarted.

Ferrari repaired his car and Sainz even went faster than Leclerc when he went out on track as both comfortably progressed to Q3.

Their close battle - carrying on from the duo nearly coming to blows in the sprint race earlier - continued into Q3 and Leclerc pipped Sainz by a mere 0.008s to take sixth place.

George Russell was the fastest Mercedes driver in eighth place, almost eight tenths off Verstappen's pole time.

Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas both squeezed into Q3 and took ninth and 10th on the grid.

Lance Stroll was the fastest of the five drivers eliminated in Q2, improving on his 15th in sprint qualifying but still well behind Aston Martin team-mate Alonso.

Daniel Ricciardo was 12th fastest, the lead RB driver in a grand prix qualifying session for the first time this season, during the first weekend since he was granted a new chassis.

Esteban Ocon turned around what was initially looking like a first intra-team GP qualifying defeat of the year into 13th place on the grid, two places ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly, who had beaten Ocon in sprint qualifying.

Alex Albon was the only Williams in Q2 but could not qualify any higher than 14th.

Hamilton the big Q1 causality

A mistake at the hairpin - exactly where he made an error in the sprint while Verstappen chased him for the lead - compromised Lewis Hamilton's final Q1 lap and he was shuffled down to 18th place.

But he was already struggling before that, explaining that he'd gone in an experimental set-up direction in between the sprint race and GP qualifying.

"It didn't work, 18th is pretty bad. When I was making the set-up changes I was thinking it can't get any worse and it did, but s*** happens," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

He was only faster than Yuki Tsunoda, who was puzzled by his second consecutive Q1 elimination on a weekend where he has firmly been the second-best RB driver, and Logan Sargeant who was 20th and slowest via a spin.

Ahead of Hamilton there was to be no repeat of his SQ3 heroics from Friday for Zhou Guanyu. Zhou was 16th, albeit only 0.048s slower than 15th place Perez.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen missed out too in 17th, 11 places and almost half a second slower than team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

Qualifying result

1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m34.742s1m33.794s1m33.660s
2Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m35.457s1m34.026s1m33.982s
3Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m35.116s1m34.652s1m34.148s
4Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m34.842s1m34.460s1m34.165s
5Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m35.014s1m34.659s1m34.273s
6Charles LeclercFerrari1m34.797s1m34.399s1m34.289s
7Carlos SainzFerrari1m34.970s1m34.368s1m34.297s
8George RussellMercedes1m35.084s1m34.609s1m34.433s
9Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m35.068s1m34.667s1m34.604s
10Valtteri BottasSauber-Ferrari1m35.169s1m34.769s1m34.665s
11Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m35.334s1m34.838s
12Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT1m35.443s1m34.934s
13Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m35.356s1m35.223s
14Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m35.384s1m35.241s
15Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1m35.287s1m35.463s
16Guanyu ZhouSauber-Ferrari1m35.505s
17Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1m35.516s
18Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m35.573s
19Yuki TsunodaRB-Honda RBPT1m35.746s
20Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1m36.358s
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