REACTIONS: What teams had to say after the opening day at the Chinese Grand Prix

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Formula One returned to China after a five-year hiatus with the Shanghai International Circuit set to host Round 4 of the 2024 F1 season. The opening day saw Lando Norris secure a surprise pole position for the sprint race with Lewis Hamilton also impressing with a second starting position.


Knowing the limits of their car, McLaren arrived in Shanghai with low expectations. The team reckoned that the long duration corners would expose the weaknesses of their MCL36, but Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri looked very strong when they attempted a qualifying simulation run on soft tyres at the end of the sole practice session.

They managed to carry that form over into the sprint qualifying, and the Briton was so impressive on the damp surface that he took his first sprint pole position with an impressive margin from his rivals. His team-mate Piastri failed to extract everything from his car on his final tours in the rain, and took only P8.

Lando Norris, 1st, 1:57.940
“I’m extremely happy, first of all, a big thanks to the whole team. It was tricky. Going into a session like this isn’t easy, especially before Sprint Quali when you know it’s going to rain. I was quite happy with how we were in the dry – we’ve had good pace all weekend so far, so it was a challenge heading into the session with changeable conditions, where you’ve got to push, build tyre temperature and get a lap in.

"There is still a chance of rain tomorrow, so if it’s like this, then I think our chances of a good result are relatively decent, but the race is very different to qualifying and I’m sure everyone is going to catch up a bit tomorrow. I think we’re in a good position and I’m very happy. The team did a good job, the car’s feeling good and so am I, and it’s paying off.”

Oscar Piastri, 8th, 2:00.990
“A mixed day. Unfortunately, not the end to Sprint Qualifying that we wanted. I had some wheelspin and pulled a gear and found neutral which was frustrating as I think we could have been higher up, but I also just didn’t find enough on the last lap. I’m pleased for Lando and I think overall, we’re more promising here than we were expecting to be, but the pace in general is tough to judge. We’ll have a look overnight and see what we can do ahead of the Sprint and Grand Prix Qualifying tomorrow.”


Mercedes arrived in China following a disappointing weekend in Japan where they were unable to keep up with the pace of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. In the sole practice session, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell only used the hard tyres in order to save fresh sets for the remainder of the weekend.

The qualifying session then saw Mercedes struggle for pure pace in dry conditions. Russell was knocked out in SQ2, and will start the first sprint race of the year in P11. Hamilton never looked to be quick enough for top positions, but the seven-time world champion delivered a blistering lap to secure P2 on the grid for the 19-lap sprint.

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:59.201
"It was very tricky conditions out there. As you could see, there was not a lot of grip out there for anyone. As soon as I saw the rain coming though, I was getting very excited. Our pace in the dry didn’t look quite quick enough to challenge at the very front, so the wet weather gave us more of an opportunity. That’s when it all came alive.

"We will have to wait and see what the conditions are tomorrow. We have a lot of fast cars starting behind us, but we will see what we can do to keep them behind us."

George Russell, 11th, 1:36.345
"It wasn’t easy at all out there. I got one lap in SQ2 before the rain arrived, which was frustrating. We tried to get out on track as soon as we could, as we knew the rain was coming. We got stuck behind several cars in the pitlane and lost a lot of tyre temperature. We were still close to going through; one more tenth and we would have made it, so it was a shame to be on the bottom end of that.

"Who knows what would have happened if we had got through to SQ3. Nevertheless, we’ve got a chance to recover in the Sprint tomorrow though. After that, we’ve got Qualifying for the Grand Prix in the afternoon and that is what really matters."

Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso found himself at the bottom end of the leaderboard in the opening practice, but he bounced back with some eye-catching laps in the sprint shootout. The Spaniard looked strong on dry track as well, but he managed to qualify himself higher up on the damp surface than he might have done in dry conditions.

Aston Martin's Canadian driver ended up quickest of all in Free Practice 1, but Stroll did not find the grip in qualifying, and finished down in P15.

Fernando Alonso, 3rd, 1:59.915

“It was quite a stressful Sprint Qualifying. In SQ1 we were looking at the radar and checking if the rain was coming. We progressed and safely made it into SQ3 in eighth position before it rained more heavily. As the conditions changed, we were quite competitive. The tyres seemed to improve with each lap, but the circuit was just getting worse with the rainfall increasing. It was difficult to judge the level of grip and how much risk to take. We have the two races now, so let’s see if we can score some points in the Sprint and qualify well for Sunday.”

Lance Stroll, 15th, 1:36.677
“We completed some solid running in FP1 and I found some good speed towards the end of the session on the Soft tyre. However, I just didn’t have the grip I needed in Sprint Qualifying when the track was dry. We then got a bit caught out by the rain, so I didn't get a second push lap in SQ2. Our options are limited in a short Sprint given we're starting P15, but we'll take today’s learnings and see what we can do for the rest of the weekend.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen, 4th, 2:00.028
“It was incredibly slippery out there and I struggled a lot to get the temperature in the tyres, that’s why it was very difficult to keep the car on track. The car never really switched on for me and it was like driving on ice, which is why I think we deserved where we finished in Sprint Qualifying. It wasn’t really working for me in the wet, even though I think in the dry the car was quite good and I was quite happy with that. It doesn’t always go as planned but it’s not like you have to start on the inside here, there will be low grip for everyone due to the paint on the tarmac here and so we have to try and have the best start possible. I think it is going to be quite a long stint on one set of tyres for the Sprint but I think that that will make it quite interesting.”

Sergio Perez, 6th, 2:00.375
“Things were looking great initially, then with the traffic and the backoff people were doing we were onto a good final lap but unfortunately, I just couldn’t do the final corner, it was so tricky to get through there and that meant I went off. That compromised being on the front row for the Sprint but I think we are in a good place this weekend. I felt confident straight away today and we ae in a good moment with the car, so in any conditions I think we can be competitive for now, which is very promising.”


Ferrari were exptected to perform well in China given the characteristics of the Shanghai International Circuit. The long radius medium-speed corners have favoured the SF24 so far, and the car seems to look after the Pirelli tyres on front-limited tracks quite well. However, the rain meant that Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were unable to unlock the performance of the car in the dying minutes of the last segment of the sprint qualifying, and will line up seventh and fifth on the grid.

The Monegasque had the edge over his teammate on the opening day as Sainz struggled with the balance of his car. However, the new sprint format rules mean that driver can make tweaks to their cars after the 100km dash.

Charles Leclerc, 7th, 2:00.566
"I lost it on the out lap in Turn 8 during SQ3, which compromised our session. I don’t think there was much we could have done differently today. We did some good work in terms of tyre preparation in dry conditions, which seems to be paying off. We’ll give it our all in the Sprint Race and then reset for qualifying tomorrow afternoon."

Carlos Sainz, 5th, 2:00.214
"It was a tough mixed session. We made it through SQ1 and SQ2 without major issues, but then in SQ3, with the rain and the Intermediate tyres, we struggled quite a lot with the rear tyres as we weren’t able to get them up to the right temperature.

"If the Sprint Race tomorrow is also wet it won't be an easy session for us, but as of now it looks like there is a higher chance of dry conditions. In any case, we will try to recover some positions and face qualifying in the afternoon with good momentum."

Kick Sauber

A brilliant day for the Kick Sauber team! Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu managed to get themselves through into the final segment of the sprint shootout. Although they were unable to benefit from the mixed conditions in SQ3 and ended up 9th and 10th respectively, it waas still a very strong result from the Swiss team. Home hero Zhou sounded optmistic after the session, stating that his car had much potential to unlock this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas, 9th, 2:01.537
“Today has been a great day for the team: both cars in the top ten is how we want to start a race weekend. We experienced mixed conditions – something that’s never easy, but it’s reassuring to know that we would have been up there regardless of the weather. I’m truly happy for Zhou and the Chinese fans – getting into SQ3 at your home race is special.

“While it’s still quite challenging to assess everyone’s race pace after FP1, especially with evolving track conditions, we’ll give it our all tomorrow. The team has done a great job and with the extra support from the Chinese fans, we aim to be fighting for points in the sprint and deliver a qualifying performance to this level tomorrow.”

Zhou Guanyu, 10th, 2:03.537
"It feels great to be in SQ3. The laps kept coming together, in SQ1 through SQ2: there was a lot of potential in the car but in the end, in the rain in SQ3, we only had one lap to get the best possible outcome. I was just trying to get a lap onboard, even though everyone was struggling so much with the grip. I’m happy with the day, with two cars in SQ3, and the fans have been sensational: I can’t wait for the rest of the weekend.

"Points tomorrow will only be for the top eight, but we’re taking this step by step: we put two cars in the top ten today, and we will give everything tomorrow. Everything can still happen; it’ll be a sprint from the lights to the finish. The guys we are fighting for the points will be strong, but we stand with a chance and we’re ready to go for it.”


Haas continued to display their fine form in Shanghai following their strong start to the season. Although Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen did not manage to qualify inside the top ten for tomorrow's sprint, their lap times were hugely encouraging, and they might be in the mix for points this weekend given the improved tyre management of their cars.

Nico Hulkenberg, 13th, 1:36.478
“A little bit disappointed not to have made it into SQ3 today – fine margins. SQ1, it was ok, there was some light drizzle about, but it was dry. SQ2, things got a little more interesting with the later rain. It was just a case of small margins. With a little more preparation time, might have been different. It’s not the easiest of days with the one practice session, but it’s the same for everyone, so that’s where we are today. Practice across the board maybe wasn’t the real deal, or the real picture, with everyone doing different things. But still, I feel good in the car and it feels encouraging for the weekend.”

Kevin Magnussen, 12th, 1:36.473

“I’m not disappointed but we knew after practice that the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and I think one of the Aston Martin’s didn’t really set lap times in that session. We didn’t take the right choice in terms of strategy in SQ2, doing two runs, basically stopping in between – and for the second lap it started raining. We took a bit of a gamble there. It could have paid off, but overall, P12 – it’s not too bad.”


Daniel Ricciardo looked to have the edge over his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda all day long. The Australian received a new chassis for the Chinese Grand Prix to eliminate any doubts about a potential technical issue with his car. Ricciardo managed to get himself through into SQ2, but failed to qualify higher up than P14 while his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda struggled for grip and finished down in P19.

Daniel Ricciardo, 14th, 1:36.553
“It’s one of those days where P14 is not an obvious result to get excited about, but personally, I think it was a much better day because we hit the ground running this morning and were in the top 10. At the same time, I knew that some cars used only one set of tyres. We knew getting into Q3 would have been tough, but the feeling on track was definitely a bit better, so some encouragement by that.

It’s close, not somewhere where we’re going to be particularly over the moon, but on our personal little path that we’re on, it was a positive day. Looking at tomorrow, the Sprint is certainly another chance to come through the field and have a little bit of a battle. It’s a circuit where you can overtake because there are some good opportunities. So yes, two chances for racing this weekend and I’m really looking forward to that.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 19th, 1:37.892
“I struggled with the balance and grip in general from FP1. Even for Sprint Qualifying, we tried different things, but I couldn’t put it all together. Not sure what’s happening there but it definitely was not easy today. It’s not because of the weather and the general track conditions, I just could not achieve more. I haven’t struggled this much so far. It’s strange, but there are still sessions to go, so we’ll continue collecting the data. Qualifying tomorrow is very important so hopefully, we can find something until then, so let’s see how it goes.”


Alpine brought a host of upgrades to Shanghai, but only Esteban Ocon received the new parts with Pierre Gasly expected to get the new package in Miami in two weeks' time. The former Hungarian Grand Prix race winner looked in good shape in practice, but was unable to convert that speed into a good qualifying position for the sprint race.

In the end, both drivers were eliminated at the end of the sprint shootout, but they hope that the changes they are planning to make after the 100km sprint will improve their chances for qualifying and the race.

Esteban Ocon, 17th, 1:37.720
“We did not maximise the potential of the car today. I think we can extract more performance from the car and, unfortunately with only one practice session, we did not put everything together in time for Sprint Qualifying. We will try our best to make progress in the Sprint Race tomorrow morning and make changes to the car when Parc Fermé opens ahead of Qualifying for the Grand Prix. We will do some analysis overnight and evaluate what set-up changes we can make between sessions to improve tomorrow.”

Pierre Gasly, 16th, 1:37.632

“A challenging Friday morning session for us, due to a high voltage problem but the team worked hard and managed to swap the Power Unit and the battery before Sprint Qualifying as a precautionary measure. The session turned out slightly better than expected, although, we are far from where we want to be currently.

From what we have seen so far, the upgrades to Esteban’s car look to be a step in the right direction, so I am looking forward to Miami where we both will be able to run the updated car. In the meantime, we will continue working hard to get the maximum out of the car in the Sprint Race and Qualifying tomorrow.”


Alexander Albon looked strong in practice, but he failed to deliver the pace he expected to have following his impressive run in FP1. In the end, the Thai driver took 18th while his team-mate Logan Sargeant ended up 20th, having complained about the grip level on the Shanghai International Circuit.

Alex Albon, 18th, 1:37.812
"Tough session today. We were the first cars out, so the track was still very green, which damaged the tyres. We tried to go for a second lap at the end of SQ1 but the tyres were gone and we didn’t have the grip. I don’t know if SQ2 was a possibility today, but I think there was potential to be in a better position than we are. We’ll treat the Sprint race as a session to learn more about the car ahead of Qualifying."

Logan Sargeant, 20th, 1:37.923
"Mixed feelings today, as like Japan, I feel like I did a decent job but unfortunately that’s placed me at the back of the grid. I felt like there’s a little bit more in the car but I’m sure everyone else can say the same. The track was extremely slippery today with low grip which made it difficult. We have our homework to do overnight. The good thing is Parc Fermé opens again after the Sprint race to allow us to change some things. We’ll use the Sprint to pick up the learnings for the race on Sunday and, of course, figure out what we can do better in Qualifying tomorrow."