2024 Chinese GP Sprint Qualifying: Lando Norris On Pole

Lando Norris secured pole position in a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying, outpacing Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso finished third, with Max Verstappen in fourth.


By Ben Bush
Published on April 19, 2024

Lando Norris McLaren 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying Pole Position
Lando Norris secures pole for McLaren in the Sprint Race at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Lando Norris clinched the Sprint pole at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix after his fastest lap was dramatically reinstated at the very last moment of a rain-affected session.

At first, it seemed Lewis Hamilton had secured pole when Norris’s last lap was deleted for exceeding track limits. However, in a last-minute twist, stewards reinstated the lap, handing Norris his second career Sprint pole.

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Fernando Alonso grabbed third place for Aston Martin, and Max Verstappen, the defending world champion, finished fourth after also having a lap deleted for leaving the track during the session’s final stages.

Verstappen’s Red Bull showed superior pace in dry conditions early on in SQ1, which will set the stage for an exciting 19-lap Sprint Race on Saturday where Verstappen will no doubt be aiming to overtake the front-runners.

Carlos Sainz finished sixth, outshining his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who ended up eighth after a narrow escape from a significant spin into the barriers in SQ3. Sergio Perez placed seventh in the other Red Bull.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri could not keep up with Norris and finished ninth. Meanwhile, Zhou Guanyu delivered a heartwarming performance by finishing tenth at his first home grand prix, just behind teammate Valtteri Bottas.

George Russell unexpectedly struggled in SQ2, placing him 11th as Mercedes again found it tough in dry conditions. Russell had barely made it through the earlier SQ1.

A drama-filled Chinese Sprint Qualifying

The return of Formula 1 to Shanghai brought a high level of unpredictability. It marked the series’ first race in China since 2019, and the drama unfolded unexpectedly during the weekend’s first competitive session.

A revamped Sprint format meant that qualifying took place on a Friday, a first for the sport. This, coupled with only a single hour-long practice session where teams experimented with various strategies, left the competitive order largely uncertain.

Initially, it seemed unlikely that anyone would challenge the Red Bulls, who dominated the first qualifying segment (SQ1). The session was briefly halted due to a grass fire on the trackside sparked by the cars, which the marshals quickly extinguished.

As SQ2 began, George Russell fell outside the top 10. Then, rain started, cutting the session short by three minutes and making further improvements impossible due to the wet track conditions.

For the eight-minute final session, the rain required teams and drivers to use intermediate tyres. The challenging conditions were clear as Max Verstappen, usually an expert in the wet, veered off the track during his first flying lap. Charles Leclerc also faced difficulties, spinning and lightly tapping the barrier, though he managed to continue.

As the session progressed, drivers warmed their tyres, and lap times improved. Hamilton, after struggling initially, switched to a different set of intermediates. Sergio Perez found his rhythm first, setting a time two seconds faster than the rest, only to be narrowly outpaced by Fernando Alonso.

In the closing moments, Hamilton went ahead, only to be briefly unseated by Lando Norris, who improved on Hamilton’s time by 1.381 seconds. However, controversy arose when Norris’s last two laps were initially deleted for exceeding track limits, typically a rule that voids the following lap time as well.

Just when Mercedes seemed poised to celebrate, the stewards reinstated Norris’s time, deciding that he had lost rather than gained time by running wide onto the final corner gravel. This last minute decision awarded Norris his second consecutive F1 Sprint pole, echoing his success from the final Sprint of the previous season in Brazil.

Norris can now look to battle for his first Sprint race win on Saturday under the new 2024 format. This format sees the Sprint race ahead of Grand Prix qualifying, with cars released from Parc Fermé for setup adjustments.

Chinese GP Sprint Qualifying Results

2024 Chinese Grand Prix, 19 April 2024

14Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes1:36.3841:36.0471:57.94013
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:37.1811:36.2871:59.20115
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:36.8831:36.1191:59.91514
41Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:36.4561:35.6062:00.02812
555Carlos SainzFerrari1:36.7191:36.0522:00.21415
611Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:36.1101:35.7812:00.37512
716Charles LeclercFerrari1:36.5371:35.7112:00.56615
881Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes1:36.5421:35.8532:00.99015
977Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari1:37.1121:36.0562:01.04416
1024Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari1:37.5441:36.3072:03.53716
1163George RussellMercedes1:37.3101:36.34510
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:37.0331:36.47310
1327Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:36.9241:36.47810
143Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT1:37.3211:36.5539
1518Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:36.9611:36.6778
1610Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:37.6326
1731Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:37.7206
1823Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:37.8126
1922Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT1:37.8926
202Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:37.9236

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About The Author

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Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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