Verstappen maintains perfect qualifying record at China

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F1 Grand Prix, GP China, Shanghai International Ciruitcn

Red Bull were again the class of the field today in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, and somewhat predictably it was Verstappen who took his fifth consecutive pole position of the season. With Perez second, the closest competitor was Fernando Alonso who will start the Grand Prix from third place.

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix kicked off under bright skies, in stark contrast to the sprint shootout that was highly influenced by the weather conditions. This time none of that. Bottas, Zhou, the Williams and Haas drivers were the first out on track while Leclerc was also out early.

Leclerc's time wasn't all that impressive and he was easily beaten by the likes of Bottas, Albon and Russell and a whole lot more cars when they ended up setting their times. Alonso seemed like the first to set a benchmark time and one that Verstappen did not beat on his effort. Both McLarens however sharpened that late in the session with Sainz settling into second, in between the Orange cars.

Both Verstappen and Leclerc did make late improvements in the session to move up to 1st and 2nd on the timing sheet.

As home hero Zhou got an ovation for his late improvement to seemingly make it through into Q2, Hulkenberg was also underway and improved to 4th. Hamilton at the time was in trouble in 19th and improved 7 positions. It wasn't enough for the Mercedes driver though as further improvements from others meant that Zhou was bumped out, along with Magnussen, Hamilton, Tsunoda and Sargeant.

Sergeant had again spun off on one of his flying laps as Tsunoda got solidly beaten by his Ricciardo for the second time this season, the first having been just the day before in the sprint qualifying. Both Alpines made it through to Q2 for the first time this season as Perez was relieved to not by kicked out, instead moving on thanks to ending up 15th.

The second part of qualifying saw everybody queue up to get out on track with the Alpines among the first in line. They weren't too quick though and it was again Alonso who did a first benchmark lap, beating Perez. Hulkenberg and Bottas also did well while Leclerc's first lap was underwhelming, just like in Q1.

Verstappen however was fastest when he completed his lap as the McLarens put themselves second and third, ahead of the Spanish Aston Martin.

Sainz was the 14th driver to complete his first lap but when he came out of the final corner he lost the rear and ended up sliding into the barriers on the other side of the track. Sainz seemed stuck initially but after the red flag was waved he was able to get underway again and slowly complete the lap back to the pits, albeit without front wing.

As the marshalls feverishly started to clean the gravel that ended up on track, Ferrari repaired Sainz' car and Russell was the only other driver left without a time so far.

With 6 minutes and 44 seconds left on the clock, Q2 continued Russell was out soon and nicely on form. The Mercedes driver set the third fastest time to ensure a position in the final part of qualifying.

Sainz on the other hand had a different approach and decided only to attempt a single flying lap at the very end of the session leaving absolutely no room for mistake. The Spaniard didn't miss out this time and ended up third, again faster than Leclerc and slower only that the two Red Bulls.

In the final part of qualifying Verstappen didn't waste any time and was out early to set a time that nobody would beat on their first attempts. Alonso came closest by going fastest in the first second but in total nearly 4 tenths away. Perez was another tenth further down and followed by the McLaren duo of Norris and Piastri. Sainz and Leclerc were 6th and 7th with Hulkenberg and Russell next.

Valtteri Bottas at the time sat comfortably in the pits and only joined the track when the others came back out for their second runs.

Nearly everybody improved on that second run but it was really only Perez who managed to gain a position as he moved past Alonso to make it a complete Red Bull front row. Alonso dropped while all others retained their positions after the first runs. Bottas completes the top 10, 1.005s away from Verstappen.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:34.7421:33.7941:33.66018
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:35.4571:34.0261:33.98219
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:35.1161:34.6521:34.14815
44Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:34.8421:34.4601:34.16515
581Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:35.0141:34.6591:34.27316
616Charles LeclercFerrari1:34.7971:34.3991:34.28920
755Carlos SainzFerrari1:34.9701:34.3681:34.29717
863George RussellMercedes1:35.0841:34.6091:34.43320
927Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:35.0681:34.6671:34.60421
1077Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari1:35.1691:34.7691:34.66515
1118Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:35.3341:34.83812
123Daniel RicciardoRb Honda Rbpt1:35.4431:34.93412
1331Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:35.3561:35.22315
1423Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:35.3841:35.24114
1510Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:35.2871:35.46315
1624Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari1:35.5058
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:35.5166
1844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:35.5736
1922Yuki TsunodaRb Honda Rbpt1:35.7469
202Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:36.3587