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2024 Chinese Grand Prix Wrap Up

Staff Writer Will Black lays out all the details you’ll need to know from the recent Chinese Grand Prix.

The first sprint weekend of 2024, another Norris podium and a double DNF for RB. Let’s wrap up the 2024 Chinese GP.

Sprint Format

As it’s the first sprint weekend of the 2024 season here’s a brief explanation of how the sprint weekends work. 

Friday

The drivers start off with a 60-minute free-practice session, known less formally as FP1. This allows drivers to get used to the track, get a feel as to how the car is performing and give as much data to the team as possible. 

After this Sprint Qualifying the drivers take part in Sprint Qualifying. Sprint Qualifying is split into SQ1, SQ2 and SQ3 lasting 12 minutes, 10 minutes, and 8 minutes respectively. Here the drivers will attempt to set the fastest lap they can. In SQ1 and SQ2 the slowest five drivers will be knocked out and do not advance to the next stage. This means that while SQ1 starts with 20 drivers, SQ3 only has 10. The drivers start the Sprint Race on Saturday depending on their position after Sprint Qualifying. 

Saturday

Now we have the Sprint Race. The Sprint Race is roughly 100km long or about one-third of a regular Grand Prix. This shortened race means there are often no pit stops as the cars aren’t required to change tyre compounds. The winner of the race is awarded eight points, the runner-up receives seven points, and so forth until the eighth position, who receives one point. 

After the Sprint Race there is regular Qualifying. This acts the same as Sprint Qualifying except Q1 is 18 minutes, Q2 is 15 minutes and Q3 is 12 minutes. The results of this session determine the starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Sunday

This is the same as every weekend with a race of at least 305km. When sprints were first introduced in 2021 the results of the Sprint Race on Saturday determined the starting grid on Sunday. Now the Sprint Race and the regular Grand Prix are completely separate. 

Sprint Race

Despite the McLarens not expecting much from China due to the low-speed corners, Lando Norris was able to take pole position in qualifying following a series of lap times being deleted due to drivers exceeding track limits. Lewis Hamilton started second on the grid with Fernando Alonso behind him in P3. 

Norris’ form sadly didn’t continue as in turn two of the first lap he went wide, running off the track and dropping down to seventh. Max Verstappen, who started P4, improved throughout the race and was able to finish P1. Hamilton was able to maintain P2 after being overtaken by Verstappen on lap nine but Alonso was not able to maintain his position. After defending well he went on the brakes too late on turn six, allowing Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz to get past him. To make his morning worse, a few turns later he was forced into the pits as he had a front right puncture. Despite not qualifying as well as would be expected, both Ferrarris had an excellent race. Zhou Guanyu did well to finish P9 at his home track.

Sprint Race Results

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
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

The Grand Prix

Alpine

Alpine looked a lot stronger this weekend. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly seemed to be running with much more pace. There was a slight hiccup for Pierre Gasly as his stop on lap 12 was extremely slow and included an accident. Gasly attempted to drive off before one of his rear tyres was removed causing the tyre to fly up and hit a mechanic. Thankfully no one was hurt. Both drivers finished higher than they have all year with Gasly in P13 and Ocon just missing out on points finishing P11.  

Aston Martin

A mixed qualifying for Aston Martin as Fernando Alonso started the race P3, nine places above his teammate Lance Stroll who only managed P12. Alonso did lose P3 on lap eight and bad luck marred the rest of his race. Aston decided to pit Alonso under a Virtual Safety Car to try and get a “free” pit stop. However he was unable to utilise the fresh medium tyres as a full safety car came out. 

Under said safety car, Lance Stroll decided to ruin both his race and Daniel Ricciardo’s as he smashed into the back of Ricciardo as the safety car came in. He was forced to have his front wing replaced and ended the race P15. Following the crash Stroll blamed Ricciardo calling him an ‘idiot’. Alonso finished P7 but not before some late race drama as he dipped his tyres into the gravel on the last turn of the penultimate lap and very nearly spun out. Overall a less than positive weekend for Aston Martin.

Ferrari

The Ferrari’s performed solidly. They did not qualify particularly well with Charles Leclerc starting in P6 and Carlos Sainz in P7 but made up the positions throughout the race. Leclerc finished P4 and Sainz finished P5 but the Scuderia did not seem to have the pace to keep up with either Norris’ McLaren or the two Red Bulls. 

Haas

Nico Hulkenberg qualified very well getting into Q3 and started P9 on the grid. His teammate Kevin Magnussen did not have as good of a qualifying and started P17. Magnussen’s race did not go particularly well either. Following the safety car period he knocked into the RB of Yuki Tsunoda. He then received a 10-second time penalty for the collision. Magnussen finished the race P16, but Hulkenburg maintained P10 and took home some more points for Haas. Despite the poor performance for Magnussen another points finish for the team is positive.

Kick Sauber

Despite a positive performance in the sprint and Valtteri Bottas’ first Q3 appearance of 2024, the race did not end as positively as Sauber would have hoped. The main disaster came as Bottas’ engine failed on lap 21, forcing him to go to the escape road and bringing out first a Virtual Safety Car and then a full safety car. Then, on lap 25, Sauber had another slow stop caused by the wheel nut issue which has been plaguing the team since Bahrain. Zhou Guanyu finished the race P14 but was given his own special car parking spot on the grid of his home GP. The first ever Chinese F1 driver was brought to tears as he looked out at the Chinese fans in his home city of Shanghai.

Mercedes

For the first time since Jeddah 2022 Hamilton was knocked out of Q1. The seven-time world champion was unable to make up many places as the W15 severely lacked race pace. Teammate George Russel was unable to do much either as he stayed mid-table and did not rock the boat much at all. Team principal Toto Wolff will be looking forward to the upgrade package coming in Miami. 

McLaren

Lando Norris drove brilliantly in the GP, bouncing back from his costly mistake in the sprint. He started P4 and steadily pushed up the grid, getting to P3 on lap eight. McLaren did well to pit him under the Virtual Safety Car, meaning he wouldn’t lose as much time on his pit stop, and the following safety car allowed him to compete for P2. The Brit was able to maintain P2 and take his second podium of the season. 

Oscar Piastri didn’t run quite as well as his teammate. Despite qualifying P5 he lacked the pace of Norris and dropped down the order. He faced damage to his diffuser too following the Stroll-Ricciardo incident and was fighting the rear of the car for the rest of the race. He finished P8.

RB

For the first time in 2024, Daniel Ricciardo was able to outqualify teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Ricciardo started the race in P12 while Tsunoda was on the grid down in P19. Tsunoda seemed to have a lack of pace all race and was unable to make up many positions. Ricciardo, however, was running solidly and looked to get his first points finish in 2024.

Disaster struck on the race restart following the safety car. Magnussen hit into the back of Yuki Tsunoda, forcing the first retirement for RB. Then, Stroll hit into the back of Ricciardo. Ricciardo attempted to fight with his damaged car but after a few laps realised he wouldn’t be able to finish. A double DNF for RB but the positives can Ricciardo seems to be getting back to his race-winning form.

Red Bull

As usual, there isn’t much to report on Red Bull’s racing. Despite the behind the scenes drama, Max Verstappen started on the grid at P1 with his teammate Sergio Perez behind him in P2. Verstappen predictably dominated the race but Perez was unable to hold back Lando Norris. The question team principal Christian Horner will be asking himself must be towards Perez’ position in the team. Does Perez’s have the pace to stay in the team for 2025?

Williams

The main disappointment for Williams this weekend came in Logan Sargeant’s 10-second time penalty. The American driver had a positive race for the first time this season but the penalty put him at P17 by the end of the race. There isn’t much to report on for his teammate Alex Albon either who finished P12. 

Grand Prix Results

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT561:40:52.55425
24Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES56+13.773s18
311Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT56+19.160s15
416Charles LeclercFERRARI56+23.623s12
555Carlos SainzFERRARI56+33.983s10
663George RussellMERCEDES56+38.724s8
714Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES56+43.414s7
881Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES56+56.198s4
944Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES56+57.986s2
1027Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI56+60.476s1
1131Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT56+62.812s0
1223Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES56+65.506s0
1310Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT56+69.223s0
1424Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI56+71.689s0
1518Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES56+82.786s0
1620Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI56+87.533s0
172Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES56+95.110s0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT33DNF0
NC22Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT26DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI19DNF0

Current Driver Standings

POSDRIVERNATIONALITYCARPTS
1Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT110
2Sergio PerezMEXRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT85
3Charles LeclercMONFERRARI76
4Carlos SainzESPFERRARI69
5Lando NorrisGBRMCLAREN MERCEDES58
6Oscar PiastriAUSMCLAREN MERCEDES38
7George RussellGBRMERCEDES33
8Fernando AlonsoESPASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES31
9Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES19
10Lance StrollCANASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES9
11Yuki TsunodaJPNRB HONDA RBPT7
12Oliver BearmanGBRFERRARI6
13Nico HulkenbergGERHAAS FERRARI4
14Kevin MagnussenDENHAAS FERRARI1
15Alexander AlbonTHAWILLIAMS MERCEDES0
16Esteban OconFRAALPINE RENAULT0
17Zhou GuanyuCHNKICK SAUBER FERRARI0
18Daniel RicciardoAUSRB HONDA RBPT0
19Pierre GaslyFRAALPINE RENAULT0
20Valtteri BottasFINKICK SAUBER FERRARI0
21Logan SargeantUSAWILLIAMS MERCEDES0

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Race 6: USA, Miami International Autodrome, May 3-5

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