Race Report: Verstappen wins Chinese GP

SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, CHINA - APRIL 21: Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, and Paul Monaghan, Chief Engineer, Red Bull Racing, on the podium during the Chinese GP at Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

After a 4-year absence, the Chinese Grand Prix returned in full force with a sellout crowd to witness Red Bull’s Max Verstappen take the win ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Max’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

The race may have been one for Max to lose but the racing behind him was spicy and when you add two safety cars sessions, a few collisions, a handful of penalties, Fernando Alonso on Soft tires, well, it can be entertaining.

Max Verstappen took the win ahead of Lando Norris and Sergio Perez finished third and unable to challenge Norris for P2.

Win

A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen who took their 100th pole position this weekend and topped the Sprint race win off with a Grand Prix win for Max. The car was working to perfection and Max was never under any real threat.

A win for McLaren and Lando Norris with a terrific P2 finish as he was able to keep both Sergio Perez as well as the Ferrari’s behind him with a terrific drive and good strategy. A great result for the team and Lando who was voted driver of the day on F1.com.

A win for Zho Guanyu who finished in an emotional P14 in front of his home crowd. With one Sauber out of the race with an engine problem, it was great to see Zho finish in front of a delighted crowd.

A win for Nico Hulkenberg and Haas for a final point-scoring position again while his teammate languished back in the penalty-ridden P16.

Fail

A fail for Sergio Perez who got caught out but he second safety car and lost two places which he somehow could not make up to finish P2. The expectation would certainly have been P2 but he just seemed stuck at 5s behind Lando in a McLaren.

A fail for Ferrari with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in P4 and P5 respectively. Ferrari have been the fastest team behind Red Bull so far this season but being beaten by McLaren is a punch in the nose for sure. No doubt this track didn’t suit their chassis but that’s interesting given it is a track reliant on tire management and that has been one of Ferrari’s bit improvements this year.

A fail for Mercedes as George Russell came home a lonely 6th and while that was a good run given the challenges they are having, it was also a great run from Lewis Hamilton to recover from P18 to P9 but both results are far off the mark for a team like Mercedes.

A fail for Fernando Alonso, or more directly, the strategy offered Alonso as they left him on a tire strategy that forced another stop late in the race and he had too much ground to make up. Having run as high as P2, I think he would have finished higher than his P7 had the team had the right strategy. Also a fail for Lance Stroll who took Daniel Ricciardo out of the race.

A fail for McLaren’s Oscar Piastri who go caught up in the Stroll collision-fest and suffered damage that left him P8. To be fair, even before the incident, Oscar was struggling with his tire management pace as compared to Lando Norris.

WTH

Not sure why the SC sessions were as long as they were or why it took so long to bring the VSC and eventually full SC out during the first session. Then, why did it take so long for the SC to come in during the second sessions?

There wasn’t much TV coverage on the Alpines and the Williams cars but I suspect there was some punchy racing back there so I may have to go back and watch the onboards.

There was a lot of track evolution and talk about bitumen this weekend but for the Yankees out there, what they did was put asphalt seal on it. You know, when you have your asphalt driveway sealed? That’s what they were talking about. Lost in translation.

Pirelli’s View:

Predictably, the vast majority of drivers opted to start on the Medium, with four – Hamilton, Stroll, Sargeant and Tsunoda – going for the Soft and Magnussen choosing the Hard.

The way the race panned out and the various strategy choices were influenced by three Safety Car periods, one virtual and two real, for a total of around 17 minutes, just before half-distance. This bunched up the pack and mixed things up in terms of pit stops and tyre usage to the extent that six drivers – Hamilton, Stroll, Alonso, Sargeant, Tsunoda and Zhou – ended up using all three compounds. Further confirmation of this was the fact that the strategies of the drivers who made up the top ten were very different to one another in terms of the order in which the compounds were used, as well as in the number of pit stops: Norris, Sainz and Leclerc stopped only once, while Verstappen, Perez, Russell, Hamilton, Piastri and Hulkenberg stopped twice and Alonso three times.

The longest stint of all was driven by Sainz (39 laps on the Hard) with Magnussen going furthest (29 laps) on the Medium and Alonso doing 20 on the Soft.

Chinese GP Results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT56561h40m52.554s1m38.406s233
2Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes560+13.773s1m38.751s121
3Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda RBPT560+19.160s1m39.388s221
4Charles LeclercFerrari560+23.623s1m39.384s117
5Carlos SainzFerrari560+33.983s1m39.764s114
6George RussellMercedes560+38.724s1m40.112s29
7Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes560+43.414s1m37.810s37
8Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes560+56.198s1m39.739s26
9Lewis HamiltonMercedes560+57.986s1m40.835s29
10Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari560+0.476s1m40.815s21
11Esteban OconAlpine-Renault560+2.812s1m40.937s20
12Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes560+5.506s1m40.790s20
13Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault560+9.223s1m39.198s30
14Guanyu ZhouSauber-Ferrari560+11.689s1m38.633s30
15Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes560+22.786s1m39.444s40
16Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari560+27.533s1m41.077s20
17Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes560+35.110s1m41.000s20
Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT330DNF1m40.994s20
Yuki TsunodaRB-Honda RBPT260DNF1m41.593s20
Valtteri BottasSauber-Ferrari190DNF1m41.276s10
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
race-report-verstappen-wins-chinese-gpSome good racing behind Max and intersting to see Ferrari struggle with McLaren.
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Peter

Thumbs up: Alonso, of course. Lando, bravo. Sainz for trying (Ferrari wants to replace him still? Really?). The backmarkers for actually having to race and proving the sport can be exciting and, never least Zho for thrilling the crowd. Thumbs down: DRS ruined the sprint (Verstappen easily passing Alonso who could not defend or EVEN BOTHER TO DEFEND) and in the race DRS made fake passing all too common, once again. WTF: Lance Stroll… why is he still in any car? And Sargeant… is he really that incompetant? Best part of broadcast? Rosberg’s comments and denial of many so-called pundit… Read more »