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Christian Horner snipes at Toto Wolff: Focus on Mercedes’ problems rather than Max Verstappen

Christian Horner snipes at Toto Wolff: Focus on Mercedes' problems rather than Max Verstappen
Christian Horner was not pleased with Toto Wolff's public courting of Max Verstappen - Getty Images/Georg Hochmuth

By Phil Duncan in Shanghai

Christian Horner has told Toto Wolff to focus on his struggling team after the Mercedes boss refused to back down in his pursuit of Max Verstappen.

Red Bull’s Verstappen secured another commanding win in China on Sunday to cement his status as the best driver in Formula One.

The Dutchman has won 21 of the last 23 races staged and he remains on an unstoppable course to take his fourth world crown in as many seasons.

Mercedes, the team which once dominated the sport, endured another underwhelming afternoon, with George Russell sixth and Lewis Hamilton bemoaning that his car was “broken” and “slow”, as he drove back from 18th to ninth.

But despite his unprecedented success, Verstappen – under contract until 2028 – has resisted multiple opportunities to confirm he will remain with Red Bull next year following the scandal which engulfed the world champions at the beginning of the season - and is again likely to rear its head with Horner’s accuser in the process of appealing the company’s decision to exonerate him of “inappropriate behaviour”.

Speaking prior to Sunday’s race, Verstappen would only say he wanted a “quiet and peaceful environment” when pressed over whether he would stay at Red Bull.

And Wolff, seeking a superstar replacement for the Ferrari-bound Hamilton, said: “There are so many factors that play a role for a driver joining and clearly – when you look at it from the most rational point of view – you can say ‘well that’s the quickest car in the hands of the quickest driver’.

“But I don’t think that this is the only reason you stay where you are. Maybe there is some more depth to some people that consider other factors, too? And I think Max has that depth.

“Are we going to convince him? I don’t think it’s a matter of convincing him. Max knows motor racing better than anyone and he will take decisions that he feels are good for him. A few factors play a role but he’s the one that is going to trigger some more dominos to fall afterwards. And everybody is waiting on what he is going to do.”

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 21, 2024
Max Verstappen took yet another win to extend his lead in the F1 standings - Getty Images/Greg Baker

Verstappen’s father, Jos, is expected to be back at the next round in Miami – his first paddock appearance since he took the pin out of the grenade by claiming in Bahrain that Red Bull would “explode” if Horner remained in his post.

Wolff added: “I don’t think that anyone can sell anything to Max, Jos and (Verstappen’s manager) Raymond (Vermeulen). It is a question of how they feel where the future is best for them, considering a lot of factors.”

However, Horner remained adamant that Verstappen, 26, would not quit a team that have failed to win only seven of the last 49 races.

“When did he (Wolff) say that (about Verstappen)?” he asked. “I don’t think Toto’s problems are his drivers. He has other elements he needs to focus on, rather than focusing on drivers that are unavailable.

“Mercedes are behind their customer teams at the moment. His time would be better spent focusing on the team than the driver market. Sometimes it is just designed to create noise.

“I can assure you that there is no ambiguity as to where Max Verstappen will be next year. I don’t know how many more times Max can say he is staying. Today we moved ahead of Mercedes in terms of races won in the modern era. So, the team is in form. Why on earth would you want to leave this team?”

Verstappen will head to the United States for round six with a 25-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez, who finished third on Sunday.

McLaren’s Lando Norris split the Red Bull drivers following an impressive showing from the British driver, while Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fourth and fifth respectively for Ferrari.

“I made a bet before the race as to how far behind the Ferrari drivers we would finish and I said ‘35 seconds’,” joked Norris after he recorded his best result of the season so far.

“I am surprised, but very happy. The team deserve it. Good day, good points and another podium. I am happy to be wrong about the bet.”

McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain celebrates his second place at the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 21, 2024
Lando Norris took his 15th podium in F1, the most of anyone without a win - AP

Wolff is confident Hamilton’s morale will not plummet despite his continued worst start to a Formula One season.

He said: “Lewis is a pro and he has behaved that way, trying to keep his morale up and the morale of the team up, even if the results have not come his way. I have no doubt this will last.”


Verstappen wins in China, as it happened


10:13 AM BST

Updated constructor standings

Gaps starting to form in those positions. A big chunk from Red Bull to Ferrari, Ferrari to McLaren, McLaren to Mercedes and then Aston Martin to everyone else.


10:10 AM BST

Updated driver standings

No change in the order but it gets a bit closer in the battle for second.


10:01 AM BST

They let Zhou park up on the grid too

The first Chinese driver in F1 and get gets to complete a race in China. Didn’t really work out for him today but he made some nice overtakes and finished 13th.


09:59 AM BST

Can Norris break that winning duck this year?

It will take something to happen to Verstappen, but there is a chance. It’s a 24-race season with six sprint weekends. There will come a time, if not more than one time, when Verstappen will need to take a grid drop. That could be his – or someone else’s – chance.

Verstappen reacts with a genuine “woah!” when he sees Stroll smashing into the back of Ricciardo under the SC at the hairpin.


09:58 AM BST

Norris now extends his record of podiums without a win to 15

That actually matches the all-time record of podiums before a win which is held by Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine, Jean Alesi and Patrick Depallier. Of course, you have to end up winning a race to be in that list. For comparison fellow Somerset man and former McLaren driver Jenson Button managed 13 podiums before his first F1 win in 2006.

Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 21, 2024 Red Bull's Max Verstappen after winning the Chinese Grand Prix along with second placed McLaren's Lando Norri
Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 21, 2024 Red Bull's Max Verstappen after winning the Chinese Grand Prix along with second placed McLaren's Lando Norri

09:54 AM BST

Lando Norris reflects on his second place

Surprised but I am very happy, I’m very happy for the whole team. Today just worked out, I don’t know why. I could just push, the car felt great and I felt comfortable. I was surprised by many things, the lack of pace from Ferrari today, our good pace and us comparing to the Red Bull which was so surprising. I got everything ready to go home early and not be on the podium.


09:52 AM BST

Decent fightback from Ferrari today

First time in 2024 that they have not managed to get a car on the podium but the McLaren of Norris was just too good for them today.


09:49 AM BST

Norris incorrectly drives into the pit lane

He should be on the grid so he will have to jump over the pit wall to get to his interview slot.


09:49 AM BST

Chinese GP - Classification

  1. VER

  2. NOR

  3. PER

  4. LEC

  5. SAI

  6. RUS

  7. ALO

  8. PIA

  9. HAM

  10. HUL

  11. OCO

  12. ALB

  13. ZHO

  14. GAS

  15. MAG

  16. STR

  17. SAR

OUT: RIC, TSU, BOT

Verstappen is showing as in third position on my timing screen for some reason but he definitely won the race. A fine race from Nico Hulkenberg again, his third points finish of the season.


09:46 AM BST

MAX VERSTAPPEN WINS THE 2024 CHINESE GRAND PRIX

Never in doubt, supreme. Norris takes another podium, brilliant stuff. Perez third, Leclerc fourth and Sainz fifth.


09:45 AM BST

FINAL LAP

Verstappen rounds the final few corners and will take a fourth win of 2024. Lando Norris’s lead over Perez is five seconds and he has done a terrific job today.


09:44 AM BST

Lap 55 of 56 - Verstappen says he may have run over debris

He asks the team to check his tyres. They say it currently looks fine. It was presumably debris from that Zhou/Magnussen clash.

He enters the final lap with  a 14-second advantage so a puncture is surely going to be the only thing that stops him...


09:43 AM BST

Lap 54 of 56 - Where are the big battles in the final three laps?

Magnussen is within DRS range of Zhou but that is it really. Hamilton not far off Piastri, 1.2sec. Zhou pulls out from behind Magnussen on the back straight but the two cars touch and Zhou loses a big chunk of his front wing endplate... messy. He’s in 14th and chasing down Gasly.


09:42 AM BST

Lap 53 of 56 - A reminder of the top 10

  1. VER

  2. NOR

  3. PER

  4. LEC

  5. SAI

  6. RUS

  7. ALO

  8. PIA

  9. HAM

  10. HUL


09:40 AM BST

Lap 52 of 56 - Alonso still eating into Russell’s advantage for sixth

But 0.8sec per lap is not enough for him to get close enough by the final lap. Perez just does not have the pace in the Red Bull to challenge Norris. That seems perverse to say it when Verstappen is so far ahead but that is the reality of the situation. In any case, it looks like we will have the first non 1-2 team finish of a grand prix in the 2024 season.


09:38 AM BST

Lap 51 of 56 - Hulkenberg has 2.8sec behind to Ocon

Can Alpine claim a surprise point here? Ocon is marginally faster...


09:37 AM BST

Lap 50 of 56 - Norris is now five seconds ahead of Perez

That has been the case for the majority of this stint, barring that mistake which cost him over a second. Verstappen now leads Norris by 11.1sec. I don’t think Alonso has the pace to improve on seventh. He was only 1.3sec faster than Russell the last time around with only a handful of laps remaining.


09:35 AM BST

Lap 49 of 56 - Alonso gets Hamilton for eighth

Piastri should be a breeze, in fairness. He did that after touching a rear tyre in the gravel but managed to keep it going fowards and fast, avoiding the fate that befell Carlos Sainz yesterday in qualifying.

Alonso gets Piastri at the hairpin and he now has 14.1sec to make up to Sainz in fifth. 11 or so seconds to Russell ahead which might be a more realistic target, though still a tremendously difficult one.


09:33 AM BST

Lap 48 of 56 - Rosberg calling out Aston Martin’s strategy for Alonso

He went onto the softs under the SC which seemed like an odd decision. He then stopped again and is now carving his way back to the front.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso of Spain gets a pit service during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 21, 2024.
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso of Spain gets a pit service during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 21, 2024.

He might be able to get into the top six here. Hamilton is the next man up the road and that is always a fight to relish.


09:30 AM BST

Lap 47 of 56 - Not a convincing performance from Perez here

A convincing one from Norris, though. Leclerc doing a decent job in fourth but looks like that will be the limit of his ambitions now.


09:29 AM BST

Lap 46 of 56 - Hamilton closing in on Piastri

A couple of tenths faster the last time around...


09:29 AM BST

Lap 45 of 56 - Verstappen now leads by 8.5sec

That gaps is largely irrelevant the next 10 laps, unfortunately. This will not be his biggest winning margin of the season but it might well have been had there not been two SC periods.

Alonso, who stopped again, is trying to carve his way through the field and sets the fastest lap of the race.


09:27 AM BST

Lap 44 of 56 - 3.8sec the gap between Perez in third and Norris in second

But the gap has stabilised after that mistake. Looking like a bigger ask for Perez now.

McLaren's British driver Lando Norris drives during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix race at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 21, 2024.
McLaren's British driver Lando Norris drives during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix race at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 21, 2024.

09:23 AM BST

Lap 43 of 56 - Slow lap from Norris

1.5sec slower than Verstappen and 1.2 slower than Perez. Not sure what happened there. He’s not lapping anyone.


09:22 AM BST

Lap 42 of 56 - Top 10

  1. VER

  2. NOR

  3. PER

  4. LEC

  5. ALO

  6. SAI

  7. RUS

  8. PIA

  9. HAM

  10. HUL

Another fine race for Hulkenberg. Perez with a slight pace advantage over Norris but the gap is still over five seconds as is the gap between Norris and leader Verstappen: 6.3sec in fact.


09:21 AM BST

Lap 41 of 56 - Hamilton is up into ninth

Nice work. Can he improve that? Piastri isn’t having a good race. The SC has definitely helped Hamilton’s cause but a solid race here.


09:18 AM BST

Lap 40 of 56 - Verstappen leads Norris by 4.6sec

How is Perez’s pace compared to Norris? About a tenth quicker last time around. Russell chasing Sainz now and looking the quicker man.


09:17 AM BST

Lap 39 of 56 - Perez gets third this time!

Up the inside of Leclerc turn six and he moves into third and can set about chasing Norris 5.6sec up the road. Not a formality by any means but that will be the main battle.


09:16 AM BST

Lap 38 of 56 - Retirements so far, three of them

Ricciardo, Tsunoda and Bottas. Plenty of other drivers have taken various penalties and damage too. Perez not able to get a big enough advantage on the back straight to make a move on Leclerc.


09:14 AM BST

Lap 37 of 57 - Verstappen leads Norris by 3.1sec

Leclerc is four seconds behind Norris, who is driving a fine race today. Team-mate Oscar Piastri with a much more difficult day, down in eighth. Perez closing up on Leclerc for third and if he gets the move done that should be Norris’s main competitor for second place.


09:12 AM BST

Lap 36 of 56 - Not a bad race so far

Perez lacking pace. He’s lapping comparatively to Leclerc but a fair few tenths slower than Norris in second, who might be able to sneak a second place here.


09:11 AM BST

Lap 35 of 56 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. NOR +2.4

  3. LEC +5.2

  4. PER +5.8

  5. ALO +6.8

  6. SAI +9.8

  7. RUS +11.4

  8. PIA +12.7

  9. HUL +14.8

  10. HAM +15.1


09:10 AM BST

Lap 34 of 56 - Magnussen also gets a penalty for the Tsunoda incident

This race has become messy. Verstappen leads Norris by 2.1sec. He’s clearly faster but isn’t easing away like he previously did. Magnussen and Stroll having a ding-dong battle for  what is effectively last but one on the track that lasts throughout the final sector and into the first.

Two retirements in two races for Ricciardo, neither of which were really his fault. He had a fairly decent weekend up to that point.


09:08 AM BST

Lap 33 of 56 - Ricciardo is being swallowed up

“I’ve got no f----- rear on exits,” he says on the radio. He was ploughed into by an Aston Martin savagely. Hamilton putting Ocon under pressure

Logan Sargeant has a 10-second penalty for a SC infringement. Clean weekends are few and far between for him. Lance Stroll gets a 10-second penalty for causing a collision. Likewise for him. Not sure how either of those men retain their place in F1. Stroll is a good driver on his days but they are few and far between.

Ricciardo pulls out of the race with all that damage. Double retirement for RB.


09:05 AM BST

Lap 32 of 56 - Verstappen leads the field away

He keeps the lead comfortably. Norris is closer this time, though nowhere near close enough to think about making a move. Alonso will want to pressure Perez for fourth.

Verstappen’s lead will be a second at the end of the lap. It was that at the end of turn one last restart...


09:02 AM BST

Lap 31 of 56 - SC coming in at the end of this lap

How much will Verstappen be leading by at the end of the first lap racing again?


09:02 AM BST

Lap 30 of 56 - This stoppage will help Alonso

Or will it? He will not need to stop again as per the regulations but will those soft tyres go until the end of the race? Not sure.


08:59 AM BST

Lap 29 of 56 - Here’s a recap of the top 10

  1. VER

  2. NOR

  3. LEC

  4. PER

  5. ALO

  6. SAI

  7. RUS

  8. PIA

  9. RIC

  10. HUL

Hamilton in 11th. Points are on.


08:59 AM BST

Lap 28 of 56 - Verstappen leads Norris under SC

Somewhere in all that Alonso got into fifth ahead of Sainz. Tsunoda is indeed out as his RB is recovered. Stroll and Magnussen are last and last-but-one.  Ricciardo is in ninth but is reporting floor damage and I am not surprised. Here is how that all unfolded.

Watch: Crashes at the restart


08:55 AM BST

Lap 27 of 56 - Race resumes

Verstappen leads by nearly a second before they get to the braking zone of turn one... can’t say it was unexpected.

Tsunoda has a puncture?! He pulls to the side of the track and it looks like his race will be over. Did he have a brush with someone? Magnussen has a problem too, he has a puncture and will try and drive back to the pits but his car is sparking and it’s a long way to go.

Wait. Stroll just went into the back of Ricciardo at the hairpin before the restart and Magnussen got involved in that. Or did he? It doesn’t look like it. The cause was Alonso locking up that created an effect behind. Yes, it did.

Magnussen and Tsunoda had an incident away from that with the Haas driver sticking up optimistically up the inside at turn six from miles back. There was room, in fact, as Tsunoda gave it but they still managed to come together.

The SC has been deployed again!


08:52 AM BST

Lap 26 of 56 - SC in at the end of this lap

Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc, Perez, Sainz and Alonso make the top six. Here are their tyre choices and laps on them:

  1. VER - HARD - 2 laps

  2. NOR - HARD - 3 laps

  3. LEC - HARD - 4 laps

  4. PER - HARD - 2 laps

  5. SAI - HARD - 8 laps

  6. ALO - SOFT - 2 laps

Sainz might be vulnerable to Alonso in short order.


08:49 AM BST

Lap 25 of 56 - I am not sure this makes Verstappen’s life that much more difficult

He still leads. He has fresher tyres. I mean, if he messes up the restart he might lose the lead but will likely be able to retake it soon after. As it turns out those “cheap” pit stops by Leclerc and Norris were not that cheap after all as others were able to lose even less time once the full SC came out.

Is the SC for Bottas’s car or debris on the track? Bottas’s car has gone so it may be for debris, of which Norris was complaining before.


08:47 AM BST

Lap 24 of 56 - Full Safety Car

Let’s see how this shakes out. It makes the race a lot more interesting. Here’s the order as Verstappen gets onto the back of the SC with Norris not too far behind:

  1. VER

  2. NOR

  3. LEC

  4. PER

  5. PIA

  6. SAI

  7. ALO

  8. RUS

  9. RIC

  10. STR

Verstappen on fresh hards. Perez likewise. Alonso on fresh softs.

Hamilton says the car is sliding around all over the place and it feels like something is broken, but it’s probably the balance of the car – or lack of it.


08:45 AM BST

Lap 23 of 56 - The VSC call was quite late there

As you can see below, Bottas was out of his car and, theoretically at least, in harm’s way.

They still cannot move the Sauber and that means the full Safety Car is called and Verstappen and Perez come in! As does Alonso. They had to come in really, they would have been vulnerable at the restart.


08:42 AM BST

Lap 22 of 56 - Verstappen leads Norris under the VSC

An array of marshals at the back of the Sauber of Bottas in the run-off area so Norris probably can get a cheap pit stop. He is approaching the final hairpin now... will he duck in? Surely! Bottas’s car is still there, possibly stuck in gear.

Norris does indeed come into the pit lane so that has not been as bad as it might have been for McLaren.


08:41 AM BST

Lap 21 of 56 - Sainz locks up and he loses the overtake to Stroll

It’ll be a big flatspot. Not the tidiest weekend for the Spaniard so far. Bottas is out of the car and we see double waved yellows with no VSC or SC. And just as I say that, the VSC is called. Norris and Leclerc to stop? Nope... Norris cannot stop but Leclerc can! That will help as he gets a cheaper pit stop. Not sure how long we will get the VSC for.

Bottas was out of his car as the VSC was called. Not sure if that was the reason but you feel it could have come a bit sooner.


08:39 AM BST

Lap 20 of 56 - Top 10

  1. VER

  2. NOR

  3. LEC

  4. PER

  5. ALO

  6. RUS

  7. PIA

  8. STR

  9. SAI

  10. HUL

Norris and Leclerc are the only cars yet to pit as Valtteri Bottas goes off with a smoking Sauber. He has pulled over perhaps out of the danger zone. I don’t think it’s a lock up where he has gone straight on. This is yellow flags but possibly a VSC or a SC.


08:36 AM BST

Lap 19 of 56 - Hamilton not happy

“I can’t even catch him mate. The car is so slow.”

He’s currently chasing down, or trying to, the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. Ouch. Points might be a struggle from here.

Verstappen is right on the back of Lando Norris to retake the lead. A formality, really.

He gets DRS, a better exit and puts it up the inside to reclaim first place.


08:34 AM BST

Lap 18 of 56 - Verstappen is currently 2.2sec faster than Norris

Norris on much older tyres of course and nobody is really racing Verstappen today. If Leclerc can do a one-stop race can Norris? Probably. They might be the only two.


08:33 AM BST

Lap 17 of 56 - A bit of a struggle for Piastri today

He has not had the race pace and he pits for the first time and comes out in ninth. Perez locks up and nearly goes into the back of Carlos Sainz in the middle sector.

Leclerc is asked about going to “plan D”, whatever that is. Could be a one-stop strategy? Norris’s pace is still good compared to Leclerc.

Perez tries to get Perez at the hairpin but the Ferrari driver resists, even though he is coming into the pit lane.


08:31 AM BST

Lap 16 of 56 - Norris leads Leclerc by 6.9sec

Comparable pace between the pair as Leclerc does his fastest lap of the race. Verstappen is catching Leclerc for second, though, which says it all really.

This will not be long in the making, he has a two-second advantage per lap. Verstappen makes his move at the tight turn six and Leclerc does not fight the position at all, wisely. He has a battle to fight for the podium.

So now Norris leads Verstappen. 


08:29 AM BST

Lap 15 of 56 - Red Bull are in another league

Their car is and their operational strength is, too. That double stack was 2.0sec and 2.1sec for Verstappen and Perez.


08:28 AM BST

Lap 14 of 56 - Verstappen moves onto the hard for his second stint

As do Perez and as does Alonso. Hamilton went from soft to medium so will probably stop again.

Norris leads Leclerc by seven seconds after those stops. 


08:27 AM BST

Lap 13 of 56 - Verstappen’s lead approaching 10 seconds

Perez’s pace is... not great compared to his team-mate. Nearly a second down the last time around and two-tenths slower than Norris. That gap is still 2.5sec between Perez and Norris. Hamilton up to 15th with a move on Tsunoda as the Japanese driver looks to come back but backs out, perhaps wisely, at turn six.

Leclerc is the second quickest driver on track at the moment. Norris vs Leclerc for third... or for second? Which brings Perez in.

Verstappen pits at the end of the lap, as does team-mate Perez. Norris then leads. 


08:25 AM BST

Lap 12 of 56 - A bit of a nightmare stop for Gasly

Sounds like they couldn’t get the right rear on correctly and then went to drive away with the loose wheel hitting a mechanic, Sky’s Ted Kravitz reports. No serious injury by the sounds of it but we will have to see a replay.


08:23 AM BST

Lap 11 of 56 - Verstappen’s lead has levelled out a little

It is eight seconds after 11 laps. Hamilton says “that was the worst tyre, man” on the team radio. Russell did a decent job with it in the sprint race. The Mercedes man is under huge pressure from Sainz to keep seventh. Norris has fractionally better pace than Perez by is 2.8sec behind. Could a second place be on the cards here? Let’s see...

Leclerc gets Piastri at the hairpin for fifth! Ferrari’s pace starting to show now.

Alonso and Russell pit. 


08:21 AM BST

Lap 10 of 56 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. PER +7.8

  3. NOR +10.7

  4. ALO +14.4

  5. PIA +15.8

  6. LEC +16.7

  7. RUS +18.6

  8. SAI +19.0

  9. GAS +28.9

  10. RIC +30.2

A flurry of pit stops puts Gasly and Ricciardo into the points.


08:19 AM BST

Lap 9 of 56 - Leclerc gets Russell for sixth

With DRS on the pit straight he goes around the outside and makes the move stick. Sainz is behind Russell now as the Ferraris come to life. Early pit stop for Zhou who was struggling near the back of the pack. Hamilton now in 15th with Ricciardo ahead of him. Tsunoda has pitted, too.


08:18 AM BST

Lap 8 of 56 - Verstappen is demonstrating searing pace here

More so even than usual.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 21, 2024
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 21, 2024

08:16 AM BST

Lap 7 of 56 - Verstappen leads Perez by 6.1sec

Alonso in third is coming under a lot of pressure from Norris behind. Again, it feels like a matter of time. Norris gets DRS on the back straight and gets the move done at the hairpin. Alonso nearly turns in on Norris for the cutback but has to back out of that.


08:15 AM BST

Lap 6 of 56 - Verstappen leads Perez

5.7sec the gap at the front. Ferrari not making a great deal of inroads into the lead Mercedes of George Russell. A bit of a DRS train going on there where several drivers run in close contact and all but the leader of that pack has the DRS, which means that nobody can find an advantage to pass the car ahead. Stroll in ninth is trying to close in on them but he has Hulkenberg and Bottas behind.


08:13 AM BST

Lap 5 of 56 - Perez up into second

A move up the inside of turn six on Alonso and the Aston Martin man doesn’t really fight the position too much. Alonso was taking a lot of life out of his tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo has dropped back from 12th to 15th in the opening laps. Bottas keeping up with Hulkenberg for that final points position. Hamilton now up to 17th with a move on Magnussen at turn six.


08:12 AM BST

Lap 4 of 56 - Perez gets DRS on Alonso

But he is not close enough to make a move this time. Verstappen, after just four laps, is already four seconds ahead. Depressing, really. It would be nice for a change, if he did not have it all his own way, even if he ended up winning in the end...


08:09 AM BST

Lap 3 of 56 - Top 10

  1. VER

  2. ALO

  3. PER

  4. NOR

  5. PIA

  6. RUS

  7. LEC

  8. SAI

  9. STR

  10. HUL

Hamilton makes a move on Zhou to take 18th place, so he’s back to where he started. Alonso under great pressure from Perez behind in third.


08:07 AM BST

Lap 2 of 56 - Verstappen is edging ahead already

Well, not edging. He’s 2.4sec ahead of Alonso already.

“I’m making no ground with this tyre,” Hamilton - who is on the softs - says. Might be a long race...


08:06 AM BST

THE 2024 CHINESE GRAND PRIX IS GO!

It’s a fine start for Max Verstappen who holds the lead into turn one but Fernando Alonso also gets a good start and hangs it around the outside of Perez into turn one and two and takes second! Verstappen gets a bit wide in turn two’s exit but Verstappen just scoots away in the next few corners.

Perez then gets a bit of trouble from Norris behind but holds third for now.

Verstappen leads Alonso, Perez, Norris, Piastri and Russell, who has had a good start. Hamilton has not. He has dropped back into 19th. Ferrari in seventh and eighth.


08:02 AM BST

The formation lap is go

A bit of a laggy start to it, with drivers having to slow down again after doing their practice starts.


08:00 AM BST

Some rain?

“Already might now be a few drizzles,” I don’t think drizzle is a countable noun but if there is any moisture in the air it doesn’t look like there’s any need to get the umbrellas out. Certainly can’t see any going up in the grandstand but that is largely covered.


07:59 AM BST

Starting tyre types

Everyone on the mediums except Stroll in 11th on the softs, Magnussen in 17th on the hards and then Hamilton, Tsunoda and Sargeant in 18th-20th on the softs.


07:56 AM BST

More on those Aston Martin repairs

Alonso starts third and, if he gets a good start, I wouldn’t rule out a bold move on the first lap...

He has committed his future to Aston Martin. Can he claim a win there? Monaco last year was his best chance for a while but his team are probably fourth or fifth quickest behind Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.


07:52 AM BST

Some work going on on Alonso’s Aston Martin

It has been going on for about 10 minutes. It’s on the floor and it looks like he’s lost something and/or they’ve added something on to the outer edge of it. Sky Sports F1 are reporting that it was stone damage from his lap to the grid.


07:51 AM BST

About 10 minutes to go

Predictions? I mean, apart from struggling in the wet and for the first couple of laps of the sprint race, Verstappen has again been in a class of one this weekend. Could be a good race behind him, though we need a bit more than that. Would be good if Verstappen didn’t keep his lead into turn one for once...

Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing talk to the media during the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China
Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing talk to the media during the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China

A strange weekend for Ferrari so far but I think they can jump McLaren in the race.


07:47 AM BST

How’s the weather?

Not too bad. Doesn’t look like rain will disrupt things as it did for sprint qualifying on Friday.


07:45 AM BST

It was a good sprint performance from Zhou Guanyu

No points, but ninth after 19 laps isn’t too bad. Sadly qualifying was not that great, being eliminated in Q1.

Zhou Guanyu of China and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber waves to the crowd on the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China
Zhou Guanyu of China and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber waves to the crowd on the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China

A chance of points today? That would animate the crowd, certainly. It’s a long shot, though but you never know...


07:35 AM BST

FINAL STARTING GRID

1. VER 2. PER 
3. ALO 4. NOR 
5. PIA 6. LEC 
7. SAI 8. RUS 
9. HUL 10. BOT 
11. STR 12. RIC 
13. OCO 14. ALB 
15. GAS 16. ZHO 
17. MAG 18. HAM 
19. TSU

PIT LANE: SAR


07:31 AM BST

Lewis Hamilton speaks before the race

It’s [racing in China] the best, they have been so supportive for so many years. Team LH China have been incredible all these years. Of course the British Grand Prix is unique and special as well. It definitely easily should have been Q2 and it was entirely my fault. The team are doing a great job, George did a great job with what we have. There are no excuses, I’ve got to do a better job and I’ll try and recover today.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the drivers parade before the race
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the drivers parade before the race

07:23 AM BST

F1 qualifying head to head so far in 2024

This includes qualifying from the sprint race too as it is measuring the same discipline - pace over one lap.


07:14 AM BST

Lando Norris speaks before the race

We can try a lot. I think we’ll give it a good shot, I think the pace has been good all weekend. Long race ahead, many things can happen. Cool temperatures for the moment but we can have a good race.

He starts fourth with team-mate Oscar Piastri – who thinks it will be a tough race – directly behind him.


07:12 AM BST

It might seem strange but that was a good day for Alpine yesterday

Probably their best day of the season so far. They qualified 13th and 15th but before Saturday their best performance in qualifying had been 15th. They had never managed to get both cars out of Q1.

Whether it’s a quirk of this track or this progress can be sustained is another matter. In any case because the top five teams are so far ahead of the rest of them it will be hard for them to pick up more than the odd point or two. That said, Tsunoda managed it – he finished seventh – in Australia but you feel those occasions require some bad luck ahead of them.


07:08 AM BST

Current constructor standings


07:08 AM BST

Watch: Sainz survived this mishap in qualifying

Aston Martin lodged an appeal that he shouldn’t be able to rejoin the session after stopping on track and causing a red flag but that was rejected by the stewards.


06:59 AM BST

Current driver standings after the sprint


06:53 AM BST

What happened to Hamilton yesterday?

Here he says it in his own words:

Nico Rosberg made the point that Hamilton, when things goes wrong, tends to “blame” the set-up choices he makes but says Russell is driving the same car. In any case it’s not like set-up choice is out of Hamilton’s control but he is essentially saying “it’s not my driving that’s the problem”.


06:41 AM BST

100 poles for Red Bull in F1 now

Here’s what Verstappen said after claiming that record:

“Before I jumped in the car Christian [Horner] told me if you get pole today it could be number 100 for the team, so I was like, ‘Okay, that’s nice, I’ll try and give it a good go’.

“Of course that’s an incredible achievement for the whole team. Also a big contribution from Seb back in the day! But it’s fantastic also to have the one-two in qualifying, it showed that the car is again working really well.”

Here are the leading pole takers by team:

  1. Ferrari 249

  2. McLaren 156

  3. Mercedes 137

  4. Williams 128

  5. Lotus 107

  6. Red Bull 100

  7. Renault 51

  8. Brabham 39

  9. Benetton 15

  10. Tyrrell 14

They should get into the top five this season and then probably the top four by the end of next season, at this rate anyway.


06:32 AM BST

Times after qualifying

  1. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 33.660secs

  2. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:33.982

  3. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Aston Martin 1:34.148

  4. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:34.165

  5. Oscar Piastri (Aus) McLaren 1:34.273

  6. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:34.289

  7. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:34.297

  8. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:34.433

  9. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Haas F1 1:34.604

  10. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Kick Sauber 1:34.665

  11. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:34.838

  12. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) RB 1:34.934

  13. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:35.223

  14. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:35.241

  15. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Alpine 1:35.463

  16. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Kick Sauber 1:35.505

  17. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:35.516

  18. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:35.573

  19. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) RB 1:35.746

  20. Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams 1:36.358


06:19 AM BST

Good morning

Welcome once more to our live coverage for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix from the Shanghai International Circuit. It’s the first sprint race weekend of the season and so far it has delivered. Quite fitting for the first race in China since 2019. Would F1 be better off without China on the calendar? You have to ask whether we’ve really missed this race a great deal and the answer would be no. But that does not mean it is entirely without merit. Having a race in the most populous nation on earth is no bad thing from a business perspective, either.

When it comes to the on-track action it has been one of the better weekends of the year. Max Verstappen has won the sprint race and took a comfortable pole position, yes, but he had to fight back from fourth to do that in the sprint race. And there is an unpredictable, mixed-up nature to what is happening behind him. There is no doubt that his dominance dulls F1’s appeal but it is now expected and we can only make the best of what we have. And if you take Verstappen out of the equation, F1 is not in a bad place at the moment.

Qualifying was certainly entertaining. Verstappen’s first timed lap in Q3 did not look beatable so it was mostly about who could secure the second front-row slot alongside him. It was then a sequence of Sainz who first took second before Leclerc, Piastri, Norris, Alonso and then – finally – Perez took second.

(L-R) Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen and Aston Martin's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso pose after the qualifying session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024
Max Verstappen drove another assured qualifying to take his fifth pole position of the season - AFP/Pedro Pardo

There will be a few drivers and teams who will be feeling pleased with themselves. Nico Hulkenberg made it into Q3 again for Haas, Valtteri Bottas did so for the first time in 2024 for Sauber. Alpine too, will line up 13th and 15th which is not where they want to be but getting both cars into Q2 for the first time this year is a step forward.

Plenty of drivers will be disappointed, too. Lewis Hamilton made a mistake towards the end of his lap in Q1 and will start today’s race in 18th. He put that down to changing set-up but it is another confusing day for the seven-time world champion who had earlier finished second in the sprint race. That was a good showing, this was not. George Russell could only manage eighth and it is looking like another poor weekend for the Silver Arrows.

The Ferraris were also strangely off the pace, finishing in sixth and seventh after being comfortably the second-quickest team over the year so far. They will hope it is just a blip and also that their race pace can put them in the fight for the podium slots in the race.

The lights go out at 8am BST and we will be here for all of the build-up, live updates and latest reaction from it all.

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