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

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen celebrates yet more success

Max Verstappen celebrates yet more success

Max Verstappen is back up in his traditional position of P1 having claimed pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Sergio Perez.

In a qualifying session in which Lewis Hamilton had a “disaster” as he went from the Sprint podium to out in Q1, Carlos Sainz brought out the red flags but went on to qualify seventh.

‘Disaster’ as Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying ends with Q1

The opening segment of qualifying began with a brief queueing war as Nico Hulkenberg – noted by the stewards – pushed his way ahead of a Stake and Alex Albon with the drivers keen to get out with showers closing in on the circuit.

Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri both took a turn up in P1, quicker than Sprint winner Max Verstappen, before Carlos Sainz, who swapped the medium tyres he tried to qualify on for a set of soft Pirellis, took over with a 1:34.9.

Daniel Ricciardo, hoping to follow up his Sprint qualifying victory over Yuki Tsunoda, returned to the pits down in 18th place after reporting smoke coming from his brakes. RB got him back out in time for one flying lap.

While Lando Norris laid down a 1:34.8 to top Q1, the five drivers who didn’t make it out were Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant. A lock up the hairpin on his final flying lap is what cost Hamilton, the Briton apologising to Mercedes as former team-mate Nico Rosberg, on commentary duty, described it as a “disaster”. recommends

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Carlos Sainz brings out the red flags but progresses

The remaining 15 drivers, including Sergio Perez who scraped through in 15th place, took their time and then all went out en masse as they crawled down the pit exit to legally build a gap.

Verstappen hit the front with a 1:33.9, half a second up on Norris, only for the red flags to be waved when Carlos Sainz lost it out of the final corner.

Spinning out of the corner, he tagged the trackside boards on the pit straight and lost his front wing. He managed to get his car back going and returned to the pits.

George Russell, without a time on the board, was the first driver out after the restart and jumped up to third place. Red Bull grabbed a late 1-2 with Sainz rejoining the action and taking third place.

The bottom five for the session and out of qualifying were Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly.

Max Verstappen blitzes his rivals to take pole

Picking up where he left off in Q2, Verstappen went purple in the final two sectors to set a provisional pole position time of 1:33.9. Although Alonso beat his sector 1 time, the Spaniard fell short by four-tenths of a second with Perez third ahead of the McLarens of Norris and Piastri.

With a second flying lap to come it was all to play for, although Verstappen’s four-tenths advantage looked ominous.

Verstappen upped his pace to a 1:33.660 with first Sainz then Leclerc then Piastri then Norris, Alonso and finally Perez joining him on the front row of the grid.

Perez’s time was 0.322s down on his team-mate’s with Alonso just over a tenth back.


1 Max VERSTAPPEN 1:33.660
2 Sergio PEREZ +0.322
3 Fernando ALONSO +0.488
4 Lando NORRIS +0.505
5 Oscar PIASTRI +0.613
6 Charles LECLERC +0.629
7 Carlos SAINZ +0.637
8 George RUSSELL +0.773
9 Nico HULKENBERG +0.944
10 Valtteri BOTTAS +1.005
11 Lance STROLL 1:34.838
12 Daniel RICCIARDO 1:34.934
13 Esteban OCON 1:35.223
14 Alexander ALBON 1:35.241
15 Pierre GASLY 1:35.463
16 Guanyu ZHOU 1:35.505
17 Kevin MAGNUSSEN 1:35.516
18 Lewis HAMILTON 1:35.573
19 Yuki TSUNODA 1:35.746
20 Logan SARGEANT 1:36.358

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