Verstappen beats Norris to take a dominant win in China

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F1 Grand Prix, GP China, Shanghai International Ciruitcn

Max Verstappen clinched a dominant victory at the Chinese Grand Prix as the sport returned to the Shanghai International Circuit. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports of the Shanghai F1 race.

Max Verstappen got a great start to maintain his first position, but his team-mate Sergio Perez lost out to Fernando Alonso, who made the jump on the Mexican.

In the meantime, the two Ferraris dropped back, having struggled for initial grip on the opening lap. However, Sainz snatched the spot back from Hulkenberg on the back straight. At the back of the field, Lewis Hamilton picked off Zhou Guanyu to move back to P18 which was his original starting position.

By Lap 5, Perez closed in on Alonso, who withstood the pressure initially, but the Mexican managed to dive down the inside into Turn 6 to pass the Spaniard.

Three laps later, Alonso started to struggle for grip, and could not hold up Lando Norris, who made the move on the two-time champion to move up to P3.

In the meantime, Verstappen’s lead constantly grew at the front, enjoying a seven-second gap from Perez on Lap 9. Behind, Leclerc started to make progress, showing encouraging tyre management. The Monegasque closed the gap to Russell, and overtook the Mercedes man with a sensational move into Turn 1.

Lap 10 saw Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Nico Hulkenberg elect to pit for fresh tyres. In the meantime, Leclerc continued his march by passing Oscar Piastri for P5.

Three laps later, Russell pitted for new mediums with Alonso also coming into the pits for a set of hards. In the meantime, Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu almost came together in the pit lane as the Japanese driver was released into the way of the Chinese racer.

On Lap 14, Red Bull called Verstappen and Perez into the pits for a double stack. The Dutchman dropped to fourth while Perez rejoined the track in P6. Red Bull’s stops handed the lead to Norris, who found himself at the front ahead of Leclerc and Piastri.

Verstappen easily picked off the Australian, and also eased past Leclerc on Lap 16. His team-mate Sainz elected to stop for new tyres on Lap 18, rejoining the track down in P10.

Lap 21 saw Valtteri Bottas park up his Kick Sauber at Turn 10 with some smoke pouring from the back of his car. The virtual safety car was deployed which prompted Leclerc to dive into the pits for a shorter pit stop.

The marshals were unable to get the car moved, which forced the Race Director Niels Wittich to deploy the full safety car. It urged several drivers to pit with Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Russell all coming into the pits.

The stops meant that Verstappen maintained the lead, but Perez dropped back behind Norris and Leclerc.

The safety car left the track on Lap 26, but it was deployed on the next tour once again as two incidents happened after the restart. First, Lance Stroll hit Daniel Ricciardo down the back straight before the restart even happened. Magnussen then tried to dive down the inside of Tsunoda, but he tipped the Japanese driver into a spin.

The race got going again on Lap 29 with Verstappen leading ahead of Norris, Leclerc, Perez, Alonso, Sainz, Russell, Piastri. Both Magnussen and Stroll were handed out a ten-second time penalty for the separate incidents.

On Lap 36, Ricciardo retired from the race despite his encouraging pace and position. The reason was the damage his VCARB01 suffered during the clash with Stroll.

Two laps later, Perez overtook Leclerc, who complained about his tyres, claiming that his relatively fresh hards already started to degrade.

In the meantime, Hamilton started to make up grounds, passing Hulkenberg with a really bold move.

On Lap 44, Alonso pitted for new mediums which was expected as he was on a set of softs. The Aston Martin driver rejoined the track in P12, but quickly picked off Alexander Albon. The Spaniard then passed the Alpine of Esteban Ocon with an ambitious move in the midfield section of the track.

The Spaniard provided the show in the closing stages of the race as he made easy passes on Hamilton and Piastri to move up to P7. He then continued his march and tried to chase down Russell for P6, but the gap was 11 seconds after he overtook Piastri.

At the front, there was no change with Verstappen building up a huge lead from Norris, who was able to hold onto P2 ahead of Perez.

Ferrari ended up fourth and fifth with Leclerc and Sainz while Russell maintained P6 in front of the fast-charging Alonso. Piastri ended up P8 despite significant damage on his McLaren which he picked up from the hit from Ricciardo.

Having started P18 on the grid, Hamilton ended the Chinese Grand Prix in P9 with Hulkenberg clinching a vital championship point for Haas with a tenth-placed finish.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt561:40:52.55425
24Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes56+13.773s18
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt56+19.160s15
416Charles LeclercFerrari56+23.623s12
555Carlos SainzFerrari56+33.983s10
663George RussellMercedes56+38.724s8
714Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes56+43.414s7
881Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes56+56.198s4
944Lewis HamiltonMercedes56+57.986s2
1027Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari56+60.476s1
1131Esteban OconAlpine Renault56+62.812s0
1223Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes56+65.506s0
1310Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault56+69.223s0
1424Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari56+71.689s0
1518Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes56+82.786s0
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari56+87.533s0
172Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes56+95.110s0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRb Honda Rbpt33DNF0
NC22Yuki TsunodaRb Honda Rbpt26DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari19DNF0