Verstappen scores Red Bull’s 100th pole in China

Max Verstappen claimed Red Bull Racing’s 100th Formula 1 pole position with a confident performance in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Verstappen set two laps quick enough for pole position, his final time of 1m 33.660s getting him 0.322s ahead of teammate Sergio Perez.

The Dutchman, who won the year’s first sprint earlier in the day, said the team had managed to improve the car since the short race.

“I think the sprint race gave us a few more ideas for the car, and I think the car worked event better for qualifying,” he said. “I’m definitely very happy with how qualifying went.

“The car was really nice to drive. That final lap was pretty decent.”

Perez was almost eliminated in Q1 after losing his first lap to traffic. Falling out of sequence left him searching for rhythm for the rest of the session, but the Mexican came good with his final lap to secure a front row lockout for the team.

“It was very intense,” he said. “It was just a very messy start to qualifying.

“Unfortunately in the end it was just not enough to get Max, but overall it’s a tremendous team result, because the track ahs changed a lot and we changed the car a lot to adapt to the conditions.”

Fernando qualified third for Aston Martin, banishing the memories of his sprint DNF from earlier in the day.

The Spaniard made a mistake in the first two corners of his final flying lap and considered abandoning the time, but a strong last two sectors was enough to make up for the mistake, putting him just 0.166s behind Perez.

“We didn’t give up,” he said. “We kept pushing all through the lap and we set a good time.

“I think the car improved since [the sprint] this morning. We made a few set-up changes. Let’s see tomorrow if we can transfer that.”

Alonso’s last-gasp effort got him ahead of the closely matched McLaren teammates by just 0.017s.

Sprint polesitter Lando Norris headed Oscar Piastri in fourth and fifth, the duo split by 0.108s.

Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz followed just 0.016s adrift, the Monegasque ahead of the Spaniard by only 0.008s. Seventh was a commendable turnaround for Sainz, who crashed just after halfway through Q2

The Australian Grand Prix winner stepped onto the gravel exiting the final corner, spinning his Ferrari backwards and over the front straight, where it heavily whacked the outside wall with both left-hand wheels.

The car stalled with its front wing broken and triggered a red flag, but the Spaniard used the car’s hybrid electronics to restart the motor and continue to pit lane, from where he was able to resume the session.

George Russell qualified eighth as the slowest frontrunner in Q3, his Mercedes 0.773s off the pace.

It was still a significantly better return than teammate Lewis Hamilton managed, the six-time Chinese Grand Prix winner eliminated a lowly 18th. Hamilton’s shock Q1 elimination stemmed from a single mistake at the final hairpin, where he got on the brakes too late and sailed wide of the apex.

The innocuous-looking error cost him 0.6s to teammate Russell in the final sector, which was more than enough to see him knocked out at the first hurdle for the first time since the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg performed strongly for Haas to qualify ninth, though the German will be investigated after the session for jostling for position at the end of the pit lane in the moments before the starts of Q1.

Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10, the Finn getting Sauber into Q3 for the first time this season after knocking Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll out in Q2 in 11th by 0.069s.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified 12th for RB ahead of Esteban Ocon in the sole updated Alpine in 13th.

Alex Albon will line up 14th for Williams ahead of Pierre Gasly in 15th.

Home hero Zhou Guanyu committed a small lock-up at the final hairpin that left him 0.048s short of a spot in Q2, leaving him 16th on the grid ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and the disappointed Hamilton.

Yuki Tsunoda’s difficult weekend continued with 19th on the grid, the Japanese driver having suffered with a stuck DRS early in the session and putting together a messy middle sector on his final flying lap.

Logan Sargeant completed the order in 20th after spinning off the road at Turn 9 on his last lap.

Story originally appeared on Racer