Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chinese Grand Prix 2024: Max Verstappen wins sprint race ahead of Lewis Hamilton

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Verstappen said: “The first few laps were quite hectic. They were pushing quite hard up front and I had Carlos behind with new tyres and it was very difficult to keep him behind.

“Then as the race went on we became stronger and I felt more comfortable with the balance of the car and could look after my tyres. Very pleased with that.”

The win gave him another eight points towards a fourth championship that already appears bought and paid for.

Verstappen’s win had an easy inevitability about it as he clinically went about his business of dispatching his rivals from fourth on the grid, achieved in a hectic wet qualifying session on Friday.

He pulled out a 13-second advantage in just 10 laps, leaving little hope for the grand prix on Sunday.

Hamilton’s second place was by far his best result of a season that has started in a difficult fashion for a Mercedes team struggling with their new car.

Hamilton: “That’s the best result I’ve had in a long time so I am super-happy and grateful, this is a huge step and improvement.

“The race was tough and if I was further back I would have struggled to progress, I found a lot about this car through this short stint so I am excited about tomorrow.”

It was behind the two men who fought out a bitter title fight in 2021 where all the action took place.

Heading into the second half of the race, Alonso was leading a train of cars involving Sainz, Perez, Leclerc and Norris.

The veteran Spaniard, who last week signed a new two-year contract with Aston Martin that will keep him in F1 until at least 2026, looked to have the measure of Sainz.

But as Alonso’s tyres began to fade into the closing laps, Sainz attacked, attempting to go around the Aston Martin through the fast Turns Seven and Eight with three laps to go.

As the two Spaniards fought wheel to wheel, the cars appeared to touch, which may have been where Alonso sustained the damage that forced his retirement and Perez managed to sneak ahead of both to take third place.

Behind him, Sainz then immediately came under attack from Leclerc, who drew alongside down the long back straight and tried to pass around the outside of the hairpin at the end of it.

Sainz slid wide and the two cars touched wheels, leaving Leclerc unhappy, but the man who is staying at Ferrari at the end of this season passed the one who is leaving at Turn One at the start of then next lap to take third.

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