Winners and losers from the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen impressed once again in Shanghai.

The first day of the new sprint format saw drivers spend a lot of time in their car and again it was Max Verstappen on top.

Having won the sprint race, Verstappen put himself in pole position to do the same on Sunday but he was not the only driver to impress.

Red Bull

Red Bull’s dominance has been so all-consuming that they often miss out on best of lists, purely because we expect them to be so good, but in China they seemed a level above even their own standard.

Max Verstappen’s first lap of Q3 was good enough for pole but that did not stop him from improving on it and when the P2 spot was being swapped around in the closing stages, it was ultimately Sergio Perez that claimed it.

It goes down as Red Bull’s 100th pole with 27 of them being added since 2022.

Fernando Alonso

Very nearly his first front row appearance of the season but Fernando Alonso was the best of the rest in Shanghai.

After an eventful morning, which saw him handed a perhaps harsh penalty, Alonso bounced back to once again be Aston Martin’s shining light.

The evidence of the sprint would suggest he is going to have a tough time holding the quicker cars behind him back but a good points score is definitely on the cards.

McLaren

For a track where they were predicted to maybe not do so well, McLaren are certainly defying expectations.

A pole for Lando Norris in the sprint may not have resulted in a podium but both drivers were once again up there in quali for the main race.

It was Oscar Piastri who first occupied that P2 spot before eventually handing it onto Norris and even if they were to slip down the order, they will be pleased to be ahead of both Ferraris.

Valtteri Bottas

Although we are sure the home crowd would have preferred to see the other Stake driver make it to Q3, that does not take anything away from Valtteri Bottas’ achievement.

It has been a difficult start to the year for the Finn and the team but if there is any bright spark, it has so far been Bottas’ qualifying pace. Consecutive P13s in Australia and Japan have been improved on and although it is a tough ask for him to stay within the points, he would much rather be defending than chasing.

Alpine

It says a lot about Alpine’s 2024 performance that a double Q2 appearance can be seen as a big positive.

It is the first time it’s happened this season and indeed the first time Pierre Gasly has made it through, suggesting that maybe there is some pace there to be found.

Alpine will also take encouragement from Esteban Ocon’s P13 given he had a new floor fitted this weekend.

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Losers

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Without what seems a very good lap from George Russell, Saturday afternoon in Shanghai was a disaster for Mercedes.

Hamilton exited P18, his lowest spot since Monza 2022, and the most alarming thing is it was not even due to a mistake – the car and driver simply had no pace.

He may have qualified P2 for the sprint and held onto it but the dry session highlighted just how far off both he and the car are compared to the rest of the field.

Russell did well to drag it to Q3 and although Hamilton explained it as a difference in setup choices, it is a bad look for the driver.

Kevin Magnussen

Thoroughly shown up again by his team-mate. The quali split may be 3-2 in Hulkenberg’s favour but it seems when the German is ahead, he is a long way ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

The Dane has scored one point to Hulkenberg’s three so far this year and starting from P17, it is hard to see how that gap will get any smaller this weekend.

Zhou Guanyu

He had the whole crowd cheering him on but Zhou Guanyu could not quite get it over the line. For the sprint race, he managed to sneak into the top 10 but the Chinese driver could not seem to find that pace on Saturday.

The home crowd would love to see their man finish in the points on Sunday but that will be a very difficult task indeed.

Read next: Chinese GP: Max Verstappen back on pole position as ‘disaster’ befalls Lewis Hamilton in qualifying