2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Race: Verstappen Wins From Hamilton

Max Verstappen surged from fourth place on the starting grid to win the season's first Sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton secured second place for Mercedes, followed by Sergio Perez.


By Ben Bush
Published on April 20, 2024

Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Race
Max Verstappen for Red Bull Racing wins the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Race

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made his way to the front during Saturday’s Sprint race at Shanghai International Circuit, transforming a modest fourth-place start into a dominant win.

Throughout the 19-lap race, Verstappen slowly climbed positions, capitalising on Lando Norris’s off-track mishap on the first lap, then passing Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and finally Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

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Hamilton secured second place, while a heated contest for third eventually favoured Sergio Perez after Alonso suffered a puncture. The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, along with McLaren’s Norris and Oscar Piastri, and George Russell—who adopted an audacious strategy with soft tyres—rounded out the point scorers.

The revised format for the 2024 season saw Friday afternoon’s Sprint Qualifying session determine the lineup for the 100km race, awarding points to the top eight finishers.

Norris clinched pole following a remarkable lap during the intensely competitive, rain-affected SQ3 phase, outpacing a formidable lineup including three past world champions: Hamilton with seven titles, Alonso with two, and Verstappen with three.

On race day, with improved conditions and tyre blankets removed, it was clear that most drivers opted for the medium compound tyres, except Russell, who chose the riskier softs.

At the race start, Hamilton made a swift getaway to challenge Norris at the first two corners, where Norris slid wide on the second corner and dramatically dropped back.

By the end of the first lap, Hamilton led Alonso, Verstappen, Sainz, Perez, and Leclerc, with Norris in seventh, trailed by teammate Piastri and Zhou Guanyu, who was in ninth after teammate Valtteri Bottas had a troubled start.

Verstappen, frustrated with a technical issue, vented over the radio, “Why is my battery flat?” as he fell nearly two seconds behind the leading duo of Hamilton and Alonso, just as DRS was activated, heralding a looming battle for the lead.

Russell, Hamilton’s teammate, made effective use of his soft tyres, advancing to 10th with a smooth overtake on Kevin Magnussen’s Haas at the final hairpin, though the durability of his tyres for the full race remained uncertain.

During the early laps, the stewards also investigated two incidents: one involving Zhou and Bottas at Turn 6 for potentially gaining an advantage off-track, and another with Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg for forcing a driver off the track—both incidents were swiftly dismissed.

A third into the Sprint, Hamilton had extended his lead over Alonso to about 1.5 seconds, while Verstappen overcame his battery issues to increase pressure on Alonso.

On Lap 7, Verstappen made use of Alonso’s slipstream along the back straight and made a clean pass at the hairpin for second place, setting his sights on Hamilton who was struggling with his car’s handling in low-speed corners, reporting, “this thing won’t turn.”

Hamilton’s difficulties became apparent a lap later when he ran wide at the hairpin, allowing Verstappen to close the gap to just half a second. As they started the next lap, Verstappen relentlessly pursued Hamilton, quickly making another pass at the hairpin.

With clear air ahead, Verstappen pushed on, immediately lapping 1.6 seconds faster than any other driver on the track, pulling away. Meanwhile, the focus shifted to the intense competition unfolding behind as the final laps approached.

While Hamilton maintained a comfortable second place, Alonso found himself increasingly pressured by Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, and Norris, all vying for the final podium spot. In the distance, Piastri held onto the last scoring position, with soft-tyre starter Russell behind him.

By Lap 14, the competition intensified. Leclerc tried to overtake Perez around the outside at the final hairpin, and despite a repeat attempt on the next lap, a heavy lockup at the apex prevented any change in their positions.

The battle heated up further when Sainz made a move on Alonso into Turn 6, pulling alongside and briefly touching as they raced side-by-side through Turn 7. This contact allowed Perez to capitalise, overtaking both at Turn 8 as Alonso suffered a puncture from the clash, dropping back in the final sector.

The drama continued with the Ferraris coming perilously close at the final hairpin, eliciting a frustrated radio call from Leclerc. Shortly afterwards, Sainz went wide at Turn 2, allowing Leclerc to pass.

The leading positions stabilised thereafter, with Verstappen clinching the win followed by Hamilton and Perez. Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Piastri, and Russell rounded out the top eight, securing the available points.

Zhou finished ninth in his debut race in front of his home crowd, with Magnussen, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas in the second Sauber, Alpine’s lead driver Esteban Ocon, and Stroll, the sole finishing Aston Martin after Alonso’s retirement, trailing him.

Pierre Gasly came in 15th for Alpine, with Red Bull’s Yuki Tsunoda, Williams’ Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, and Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg completing the field after his earlier incident with Stroll.

Chinese GP Sprint Race Results

2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Race, 20 April 2024

11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1932:04.6608
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes19+13.043s7
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT19+15.258s6
416Charles LeclercFerrari19+17.486s5
555Carlos SainzFerrari19+20.696s4
64Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes19+22.088s3
781Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes19+24.713s2
863George RussellMercedes19+25.696s1
924Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari19+31.951s0
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari19+37.398s0
113Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT19+37.840s0
1277Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari19+38.295s0
1331Esteban OconAlpine Renault19+39.841s0
1418Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes19+40.299s0
1510Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault19+40.838s0
1622Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT19+41.870s0
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes19+42.998s0
182Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes19+46.352s0
1927Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari19+49.630s0
2014Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes17DNF0
Note: Alonso received a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision.

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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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