Lewis Hamilton slumps to 18th in Chinese GP qualifying as Max Verstappen on pole

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes looks on, on the grid prior to the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China

Lewis Hamilton was second in the sprint but slumped to third-from-last in qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix – Getty Images/Mario Renzi

Lewis Hamilton’s troubled start to the new season took another desperate twist on Saturday after he qualified a lowly 18th for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton earlier in the day had led the sprint race in Shanghai for eight laps before he had to settle for runner-up after he was overtaken by eventual winner Max Verstappen.

But less than four hours after Hamilton’s drive to second place – a result he described as his “best in a long time” – the 39-year-old was brought crashing back down to earth when he was eliminated in the opening phase of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

The seven-time world champion locked up at the penultimate corner on his speediest lap, and he finished in the Q1 knockout zone, leaving only RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant behind him on the grid.

An exasperated Mercedes boss Toto Wolff looked to the heavens after Hamilton’s fate was confirmed.

“Sorry guys,” reported Hamilton, 39, over the radio. He finished eight tenths off the pace and half-a-second behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

Aside from his strong showing in Saturday’s 19-lap dash to the chequered flag, this has been Hamilton’s worst-ever start to a season.

The British driver, who is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari next year, failed to finish inside the top six at the opening four rounds of the campaign. And his bleak result in qualifying here leaves him staring at another underwhelming result.

Carlos Sainz, the man who is giving up his seat at Ferrari for Hamilton next year, brought out a red flag in Q2 after he lost control of his Ferrari.

The Spaniard dropped his rear wheels on to the gravel on the exit of the final corner, sending him backwards into the wall on the opposing side of the track. Sainz broke his front wing but he was able to limp back to the pits.

Ferrari's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr sits on the side of the track during the qualifying session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024.

Carlos Sainz crashed in the second part of qualifying – Getty Images/Hector Retamal

However, following the red-flag delay, Ferrari were able to repair Sainz’s Ferrari and the Spaniard participated in the remainder of qualifying.

Verstappen beat Hamilton by an impressive 13 seconds in Saturday’s sprint and he raced to a perhaps predictable pole position.

The Dutch driver, who is on course to take his fourth consecutive world championship, saw off team-mate Sergio Perez as Red Bull secured a front-row lockout. It also marked Red Bull’s 100th pole in F1.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, left, of the Netherlands is congratulated by teammate Sergio Perez of Mexico after taking pole position following qualifying at the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Perez qualified second fastest

Max Verstappen took his fifth pole position of 2024 at the Chinese Grand Prix – AP/Andy Wong

Verstappen finished 0.322 seconds clear of Perez, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third. Lando Norris, who dropped from pole to finish sixth in the sprint race, qualified fourth ahead of Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren.

Charles Leclerc and Sainz finished sixth and seventh respectively for Ferrari, while George Russell could manage only eighth on a poor afternoon for the Silver Arrows.

Verstappen takes pole, Hamilton only 18th in China: As it happened

09:39 AM BST

A mixed day for Hamilton

His best performance of the season to claim second in the sprint race…

Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez (L) of Mexico and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain chat after the Sprint, ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai, China, 20 April 2024

Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez (L) of Mexico and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain chat after the Sprint, ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai, China, 20 April 2024

…and then arguably his worst session of the season to qualify way down in 18th. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, this is Lewis Hamilton’s most confusing season. It shows no sign of ending.

09:33 AM BST

Christian Horner speaks to Sky Sports F1

It’s been a really good Saturday for us. 100 poles in 15 years and the first one here 15 years ago. You’ve got to keep your head down and keep pushing forwards, it’s still very early in the championship and there’s a long, long way to go. Things can change very quickly but we cannot afford to have any complacency.

[Perez] is doing a great job. He’s come into this season with a new frame of mind and he’s relaxed, he’s driving the car really well, he’s not focusing on his team-mate. In the first five races we’ve seen a really strong performance from him. Hopefully he can convert that into another great result tomorrow.

09:26 AM BST

100 pole positions for Red Bull in F1

The very first came at this track in 2009 with Sebastian Vettel at the helm of the RB5. A nice symmetry to that.

Red Bull driver Sebastien Vettel powers his car to pole position during qualifying for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 18, 2009. Vettel took pole in 1:36.184

Red Bull driver Sebastien Vettel powers his car to pole position during qualifying for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 18, 2009. Vettel took pole in 1:36.184

Six in a row for Verstappen for the first time in his career. At the end of the season Ferrari challenged him in qualifying. That is not happening this season, though they do have a better race car in 2024 than they did last year.

09:22 AM BST

Fernando Alonso on his third

I don’t know how far Checo is but I had a moment in turns one and two… I lost two tenths in two corners. We didn’t give up, we kept pushing all through the lap. We made a few set-up changes, let’s see tomorrow.

09:21 AM BST

Sergio Perez reacts

It was very intense. I nearly got knocked out in Q1, I had traffic with one of the Williams. I just made it through P15, 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.

09:20 AM BST

Max Verstappen speaks

I think after the sprint race it gave us a few more ideas for the car and I think the car worked even better in qualifying. The car was really nice to drive… even in Q3 the car felt pretty decent. The conditions were good so it was a lot of fun. Coming out of a race when you go back to low-fuel it takes a lap to feel comfortable again. Yesterday we had a bit of rain, we had extra sets of tyres so you could practice a bit more. I think the track evolution wasn’t that massive around here but that’s fine.

09:16 AM BST

Q3 – Classification

  1. VER 1:33.660

  2. PER +0.322

  3. ALO +0.488

  4. NOR +0.505

  5. PIA +0.613

  6. LEC +0.629

  7. SAI +0.637

  8. RUS +0.773

  9. HUL +0.944

  10. BOT +1.005

09:15 AM BST


Russell into third with a better lap. Nice work. Sainz goes second! Leclerc beats that, just! And Piastri beats that… but then Norris beats that to go onto the front row!

But Verstappen is improving and nobody is going to beat him.

Alonso is yet to cross the line… can he get back onto the front row?! Yes he can! But not for long! Perez soon knocks Alonso off that front row! What a fight for second.

It was Sainz a matter of moments ago but he’s down in seventh now!

09:13 AM BST

Q3 – Sainz hasn’t lost too much time in sector two

Leclerc has gained some but his first sector wasn’t great. Piastri isn’t far off Verstappen’s time after two sectors…

09:12 AM BST

Q3 – Two minutes remain

The final runs are under way. That first corner just looks so awkward to drive. Sainz makes a fair go of it but he is nearly two tenths down on Verstappen, which isn’t a good effort.

09:09 AM BST

Q3 – Sainz so far the lead Ferrari driver

Despite crashing in Q2.

09:08 AM BST

Q3 – Top 10 and gaps after the first runs

  1. VER 1:33.977

  2. ALO +0.394

  3. PER +0.493

  4. NOR +0.539

  5. PIA +0.614

  6. SAI +0.749

  7. LEC +0.752

  8. HUL +1.423

  9. RUS +1.632

  10. BOT (NO TIME)

A couple of points here: Russell did his lap on used softs and Bottas has not set a time. Big gaps from Verstappen to everyone else, though. Insurmountable you would say. Half a second to Perez. Eight tenths to Ferrari, too.

09:06 AM BST

Q3 – Perez cannot beat Verstappen

Alonso cannot either but moves provisionally onto the front row with a great lap! Four-tenths away but the next best so far. Piastri kicks up some gravel in the final corner. Norris into fourth, seventh for Leclerc. Piastri will have a couple more tenths to give.

09:05 AM BST

Q3 – Alonso goes fastest in sector one

About a tenth faster than Verstappen. Verstappen with a 28.265 in sector two, Perez is three tenths slower or so.

What can Alonso do? He’s a couple of tenths slower in sector two as well.

Verstappen crosses the line with a 1:33.977 which is a couple of tenths slower than he did in Q2.

09:04 AM BST

Q3 – Verstappen starts his hot lap

It’s a 25.016 in the first sector, about four tenths faster than Russell. Perez is within a tenth…

09:03 AM BST

Q3 – 10 minutes remain

Would be funny if Sainz was the lead Ferrari after putting it in the barriers.

09:01 AM BST

Q3 begins!

12 minutes long, one man will sit on pole at the end of it. Hulkenberg in Q3 again, by the way.

09:00 AM BST

It’s looking like a matter of how much Verstappen gets pole by

The Red Bull is the fastest car and Verstappen has it hooked up today. The battle, as usual, is for second behind Verstappen. Unless someone can pull something unexpected out of the bag.

08:59 AM BST

Another poor session from Stroll

He is not good at qualifying. Alonso makes it through to Q3 fairly comfortably. A lot of drivers around 0.8-0.9sec off Verstappen’s time. Bottas very happy with his lap and he should be. It’s a good looking livery and we haven’t seen very much of it near the front of the field this year.

Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 20, 2024 Sauber's Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying

Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China – April 20, 2024 Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying

08:55 AM BST

Q2 – Classification

  1. VER 1:33.794

  2. PER +0.232

  3. SAI +0.574

  4. LEC +0.605

  5. NOR +0.666

  6. RUS +0.815

  7. ALO +0.858

  8. PIA +0.865

  9. HUL +0.873

  10. BOT +0.975

  11. STR

  12. RIC

  13. OCO

  14. ALB

  15. GAS

08:54 AM BST

Q2 ends – Verstappen leads Perez

Stroll, Ricciardo, Ocon, Albon and Gasly out.

08:54 AM BST

Q2 – Ricciardo into ninth as Q2 comes to an end

Decent, but will it be good enough? Sainz, after crashing, moves into second! Albon cannot get into the top 10. Leclerc goes third and drops Ricciardo out of Q1. Perez into second, dropping Bottas out but Bottas then crosses the line to knock Lance Stroll out! That’s a fine lap from Bottas. His best of the year probably.

08:53 AM BST

Q2 – Russell is in the pits here

So he will have to hope that his 1:34.609 will be good enough for him to get through. It might be. But could be close. Stroll up into sixth so cannot beat Russell, which is good news for him. Sainz is 0.267sec down on Verstappen after one sector as Alonso moves up to fourth. More good news for Russell.

08:51 AM BST

Q2 – Two minutes remain

Sainz has made it onto the track, thankfully for him. Not ideal to crash so let’s see what he can do. Verstappen currently leads the way by 0.666sec ahead of Norris.

08:49 AM BST

Q2 – Four minutes remain

Hamilton on the radio saying that he and Russell went in differing directions, again, with their set-up after the sprint race.

08:48 AM BST

This is a great shot of the moment Sainz spun

Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 runs wide into the gravel during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China.

Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 runs wide into the gravel during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China.

08:46 AM BST

Q2 resumes!

Russell the first driver out there, on his own. He has yet to set a time so it makes sense for him to get one on the board.

08:43 AM BST


The front wing and tyres are on Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari which is good news. No real penalty for the crash, then. Assuming everything else is fine with the car.

08:41 AM BST

Current order and gaps in Q2

  1. VER 1:33.946

  2. NOR +0.514

  3. PIA +0.713

  4. ALO +0.855

  5. PER +0.937

  6. HUL +1.033

  7. BOT +1.071

  8. STR +1.146

  9. LEC +1.185

  10. RIC +1.283

  11. ALB

  12. OCO

  13. GAS

  14. SAI (NO TIME)

  15. RUS (NO TIME)

08:40 AM BST

Watch: Sainz bins it at the final corner

08:37 AM BST

Well, well, well… Sainz has got it going

He has no front wing and might have some other damage but he is returning to the pit lane. 6min44sec left in the session. Will there be enough time to repair whatever damage there is? There is a red flag so that will give them extra time.

08:35 AM BST

Q2 – Sainz in the barriers!

He spins at the final turn and goes sideways into the barriers on the inside of the track. It’s not a big hit and he might be able to keep going but… no. The car doesn’t look massively damaged but it makes a mess of an advertising hoarding. Has the car stopped or can he get it going again?

Either way it’s a red flag.

Sainz just put his outside rear onto the gravel and get his boot in and spun. That’ll do it.

08:34 AM BST

Q2 – It’s fastest for Alonso so far…

…but that does not last very long as he is beaten by Piastri and then Norris, who is two-tenths faster than his McLaren team-mate. They are all going to be beaten by Verstappen, though.

Verstappen destroys Norris’s time by half a second. It’s a poor time from Leclerc, only good enough for eighth, but he was on used softs. Pretty much everyone else is on fresh softs.

08:33 AM BST

Q2 – Hulkenberg crosses the line with a 1:34.979

He is the sole Haas left in qualifying. Magnussen was 17th. Not awful. Ahead of Hamilton at least. Neither Alpine gets close to Hulkenberg. Ocon three tenths off and Gasly a second off. Stroll goes second, about a tenth off the Haas.

Alonso crosses the line… where will he place?

08:32 AM BST

Q2 – 12 minutes remain

Ricciardo out-qualifies Yuki Tsunoda again, as he did in the sprint. It’s the start to the weekend he needs. Still requires a good race. Remember, he did not last four corners in Japan. Not entirely his fault but a DNF is a DNF and they will not help him keep his seat.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China.

08:28 AM BST

Watch: Hamilton eliminated from Q1

He apologises to his team.

I do not fancy his chances of getting points tomorrow. Just as well he got seven in the sprint race today, then.

08:27 AM BST

Q2 begins

Nobody that keen to get out there, though.

08:27 AM BST

Good result for Alpine

Both cars through to Q2. Not sure that has happened this season at all. Indeed it has not. And it guarantees Alpine will have their highest qualification of the year too as one of them will be at worst 14th. Their best so far is 15th.

08:22 AM BST

Q1 – Classification

  1. VER 1:34.742

  2. LEC +0.055

  3. NOR +0.100

  4. SAI +0.228

  5. PIA +0.272

  6. HUL +0.326

  7. RUS +0.342

  8. ALO +0.374

  9. BOT +0.427

  10. GAS +0.545

  11. STR +0.592

  12. OCO +0.614

  13. ALB +0.642

  14. RIC +0.701

  15. PER +0.715

  16. ZHO

  17. MAG

  18. HAM

  19. TSU

  20. SAR

08:21 AM BST

Q1 ends – Verstappen fastest, Hamilton out!

Hamilton just made a mess of that final sector. Locked up at the hairpin and went deep and then ran wide at the final corner. He had a margin not to do that but mistakes can happen.

08:21 AM BST

Q1 – Hamilton runs deep in the hairpin…

…and he runs wide at the final corner! He’s only 12th. He might still be vulnerable here as Ricciardo moves up into the top 10. Stroll into eighth. Hamilton in 15th, Leclerc 16th! Is he going out?

Verstappen goes fastest. Leclerc is improving rapidly and looks like knocking Hamilton out… but no Gasly goes ninth so Hamilton is definitely out without Leclerc even needing to do it!

Verstappen goes fastest, Leclerc goes second! Hamilton is out. Zhou is out. Hamilton 18th.

08:19 AM BST

Q1 – No further action on the Albon/Perez incident

Fair. Bottas pops up into the top five with an impressive time. Home hero Zhou Guanyu locks up at the final hairpin but goes eighth fastest. Will that be enough to get him into Q2?!

Albon into seventh, Hamilton just needs to get around the lap to get out of the drop zone. He’s currently 19th. Sargeant makes a mess of his lap and will be eliminated from this session.

08:17 AM BST

Q1 – Hamilton still in the drop zone

Perez moves sixth with his first proper lap of the session.

08:15 AM BST

Q1 – Norris struggling with oversteer so far

It’s far from a rapid first sector. It’s a better final sector and this should put him in the top 10. But he needs a decent final sector. He hooks it up pretty well at the end and crosses the line to go fastest. 

08:13 AM BST

Q1 – Nice lap from Sainz, he goes P1

0.044sec faster than Piastri. In the drop zone are: Riciardo, Norris, Hamilton, Magnussen and Perez. The Mexican has yet to set a lap time.

Five minutes remain. 

08:12 AM BST

Q1 – Piastri moves fastest

A tenth faster than Alonso. Track evolution strong here. It’s a new surface and of course it rained yesterday. Sainz takes a couple of bites as he approaches the tricky section before the  back straight. He posts the fastest middle sector time in any case.

08:11 AM BST

Q1 – Current order and gaps

  1. ALO

  2. VER +0.055

  3. BOT +0.412

  4. STR +0.730

  5. LEC +0.864

  6. ZHO +1.192

  7. SAR +1.242

  8. RIC +1.249

All a bit mixed up there with Williams, RB, Saubers, Ferraris, Aston Martins and a Red Bull.

08:10 AM BST

Q1 – Verstappen “only” second

0.055sec in it. Not much. Alonso leads. Bottas third.

Perez gets a bit annoyed at a Williams who was slightly in the way and makes a mess of it himself. Not sure it was the cause but it is a little distracting. The problem with turn one is there is a variety of lines you can take. Albon says he couldn’t have done any more there.

08:09 AM BST

Q1 – Ominous pace from Verstappen

He’s dropped down in the second sector, though, 0.066sec off Alonso, who has set a very good lap time. Bottas posts a rapid time too. Big gaps here though so far, all a bit odd. 0.4sec between Alonso in first and Bottas in second and 0.4sec between Bottas in second and Stroll.

08:08 AM BST

Q1 – Russell leads the way

He is 0.092sec faster than Lando Norris, though Leclerc blows them all out of the water by nearly half a second. What’s Verstappen doing? Well, he’s four-tenths quicker than anyone else in the first sector. Ouch.

08:05 AM BST

Q1 – 14 mins remain

Zhou is entering the back straight. Sauber have been poor this season but Zhou is going well so far today with a ninth in the sprint race. Decent attempt around the hairpin but he abandons his lap, not sure why. Something not quite right.

Magnussen currently leads the way with five drivers having set a lap time.

08:02 AM BST


18 minutes on the clock, counting down.

07:58 AM BST

Right, just a few minutes to go

It’s going to be this man jumping out of his car in pole again, right?

Verstappen gets out of his car as he celebrates after winning the sprint

Verstappen gets out of his car as he celebrates after winning the sprint

07:53 AM BST

Here is specifically what the stewards said:

As an aside to the FIA, we note that the language in the regulations as to when a car has retired and the resultant consequences on penalties that may be imposed or served, especially when that car is otherwise classified, is somewhat unclear and we would recommend that the FIA considers making the necessary amendments to bring greater clarity to this issue.

07:45 AM BST

F1 teams ranked so far: Mercedes get an F

After the last race in Japan, Telegraph Sport columnist Gary Anderson assessed each team’s performances so far in 2024. Here is his verdict. A lot of teams need to improve, in short.

07:41 AM BST

Alonso gets 10sec time penalty a three penalty points on his licence

That is for the incident with Carlos Sainz here.

There’s not much to note in the stewards’ verdict but they do state, correctly, that perhaps the fact that Alonso’s car retired and he gets a 10-second time penalty needs to be improved. Not much of a penalty, really, though he did obviously pick up the race-ending damage in the incident so it all came out in the wash this time.

07:36 AM BST

How does the 2025 grid look?

Fernando Alonso pledged his future to Aston Martin very recently which closes down one option but there are still many open seats for next season.


You wouldn’t even say it was impossible for Albon to be removed from his seat should another team come knocking. Though who that would be I do not know. Mercedes maybe?

07:30 AM BST

The 2024 F1 calendar

Round five here this weekend, so 19 more to go after this.


It’s to many, isn’t it?

07:27 AM BST

The first Chinese driver to compete in a Chinese GP

It was a good showing in the sprint race from Sauber’s Guanyu Zhou. Ninth, just missing out on a point.

Will he be in F1 next season? I am not so sure. Does he deserve his place on the grid going by his career so far? It’s a toss-up but probably not quite.

07:16 AM BST

Looking like a tougher weekend for RB

Tsunoda has been in good form so far this year whilst Ricciardo needs to find his.

07:13 AM BST

Updated constructor standings after the sprint


07:05 AM BST

Alonso not too fussed about what happened in the sprint

He ran third for most of it but was then swamped by Sainz, Perez, Leclerc in a fantastic battle during which he picked up a puncture and ultimately retired the car. He is right, it was only a few points he lost really.

07:02 AM BST

Updated driver standings after the Chinese GP sprint


No change in the order. Verstappen extends his lead to 15 points. Hamilton gets a bit closer to those ahead.

06:54 AM BST

Qualifying begins at 8am

Hello and welcome back if you’re just joining us after waking up then you can read a recap of the sprint race that took place at 4am below. We’re a little over an hour away from qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix. The rain looks like staying away today – fortunately or unfortunately depending on your view – which makes it a little easier for Max Verstappen.

Still, there is plenty to discover and we have had only one practice session so there could well be a few surprises and it might not be nailed on that the Red Bull driver and championship leader takes pole position. Can Lando Norris challenge for pole position? He had a bit of a stinker of a start in the sprint race earlier on but might be able to sneak something here, the McLaren looking strong, despite them falling away in the sprint race.

06:49 AM BST

Sprint race recap: Verstappen fights back from fourth to win

Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen won the first sprint race of the Formula One season at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Dutch 26-year-old beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 13.043 seconds in the 19-lap race at the Shanghai International Circuit to stretch his championship lead over team mate Sergio Perez, who finished third.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fourth and fifth.

McLaren’s Lando Norris started on pole position but ran wide on the opening lap as he battled with Hamilton and ended up sixth. Team mate Oscar Piastri was seventh and Mercedes’ George Russell eighth for the final point.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix starts at 8am BST later today.

05:00 AM BST

OK, that wraps it up for the sprint race coverage

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix begins at 8am BST later this morning. We will be here for all the build-up to that from around an hour before.

04:55 AM BST

Leclerc not massively happy with Sainz

Let’s speak. We’re fighting more. He’s fighting more me than the others, but anyway.

04:55 AM BST

Was that a good sprint race?

Yeah, not bad at all.

The start of the sprint race

The start of the sprint race

The sprint races would obviously be better if Verstappen was so far ahead of everyone else. But sprint qualifying and this is much, much better than having another two practice sessions. Is six of them too many for a season of 24 races? Perhaps, but not by a great deal.

04:52 AM BST

The Leclerc/Sainz incident…

…will not be looked at by the stewards. It was the battle at the end of this clip. That makes Nico Rosberg slightly perplexed.

04:46 AM BST

Hamilton reacts to a strong if distant second

That’s the best result I’ve had in a long time, of course I’m super, super happy and grateful. This is a huge step and huge improvement. The race was tough and of course if I was further back I would have struggled to progress. I found out a lot about the car about from this short stint. I still think we’re not as quick on a single lap as obviously the Ferraris, the Red Bulls, the McLarens are ahead of us for sure. I don’t anticipate we will be fighting for the front row… hopefully I can improve the car in the next few hours and have a better qualifying [than we’ve had].

04:44 AM BST

Verstappen reacts to his win

The first few laps were quite hectic, they were pushing quite hard at front and I had Carlos behind with new tyres… we became stronger and also I felt a bit more comfortable with the balance of the car and I could look after my tyres. Qualifying is of course important to get a good starting position that will help on the first few laps. The wind is changing every day.

04:40 AM BST

A few platitudes from Hamilton on the radio

Yeah, great job guys. Let’s just keep pushing.

That car could not have done any better today. Russell only finished eighth, so there you go. Hamilton’s best day of the season by a pretty long way. Can he convert that into a good result in the grand prix tomorrow? It’ll be hard.

04:38 AM BST

Chinese GP sprint classification

  1. VER

  2. HAM

  3. PER

  4. LEC

  5. SAI

  6. NOR

  7. PIA

  8. RUS

Zhou in ninth. A good result but no points.

04:37 AM BST


Was it ever in doubt? Well, for a few laps – yes. Hamilton takes a very good second, Perez finishes off the sprint podium.

04:36 AM BST


The biggest battle here is for fifth between Norris and Sainz ahead. Hamilton is 12 seconds behind but it looks like he is going to record his best result of the season by far. Perez is 2.5sec behind so it would need a mistake from Hamilton to stop that.

After a tough first few laps Verstappen has, again, been in a class of one. Good for him but rather depressing for the sport.

04:35 AM BST

Lap 18 of 19 – Charles Leclerc unhappy with his team-mate

“What the f—?!” he says on the radio. Alonso is told to retire the car. Not that it makes any difference as he was in last after his pit stop. Fair enough. Hopefully no lasting damage that compromises his qualifying.

04:33 AM BST

Lap 17 of 19 – Leclerc gets Sainz for fourth

Sainz was perhaps over the limit according to Nico Rosberg. Either way it’s Leclerc who is ahead. Over the limit when it comes to racing with your team-mate he means, rather than just getting a penalty.

Verstappen leads by 10 seconds now. Hamilton has done a fine job in second. Perez is four seconds behind him so it should be a safe second.

04:32 AM BST

Lap 16 of 19 – It’s a variety of lines in T1 and T2 for Alonso, Sainz, Perez and Leclerc

It’s a fantastic battle between Alonso and Sainz throughout the first part of the lap. Alonso is struggling for grip here but just will not give up! Sainz looks like he has the move done but his compatriot does not budge. This gives Perez the chance to dive through and the Mexican is up to third!  Now the two Ferraris are at it!

Alonso and Sainz definitely touched and it looks like Alonso has a puncture and he dives into the pit lane!

04:30 AM BST

Lap 15 of 19 – It’s getting tight for third

Just 1.4sec between Alonso in third and Leclerc in sixth…

Alonso under extreme pressure behind. Perez says he doesn’t have any traction but he is not far from Sainz ahead. Norris has just been dropped slightly from that chasing pack.

Leclerc tries another move around the outside of Perez at the hairpin but again locks up! Good defensive driving from the Red Bull driver.

Verstappen now leads Hamilton by eight seconds.

04:28 AM BST

Lap 14 of 19 – Verstappen has checked out

He leads by 6.1sec. Just as Perez cannot find a way past Sainz, Sainz cannot find a way past Alonso ahead. The Aston Martin looks pretty slippery down the straight. Leclerc attempts a move on Perez at the hairpin, though cannot make it stick.

04:27 AM BST

Lap 13 of 19 – I wonder if a Red Bull 1-2 is the most likely result now

Perez would have to overtake Sainz, Alonso and Hamilton in the next seven laps. It’s doable but difficult. Perez can keep up with Sainz easily but he has not easily been able to pass.

Ferrari's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr (bottom) drives in front of Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Perez during the sprint session ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024

Ferrari’s Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr (bottom) drives in front of Red Bull Racing’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez during the sprint session ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024

04:25 AM BST

Lap 12 of 19 – Verstappen a second a lap faster than Hamilton now

Alonso not really able to hang onto the back of Hamilton, lapping at aroudn the same pace. Sainz is being a bit of a blocker at the moment, Perez with the superior pace behind but he cannot yet find a way past. Sainz locked up on the previous lap.

04:24 AM BST

Lap 11 of 19 – Verstappen now leads by 3.1sec

This is pretty ominous for tomorrow’s race. Not sure what the competitive order here is really as we were a bit jumbled up yesterday. Norris in seventh is stuck in a bit of a DRS train but Piastri is miles behind him and Norris should be good for the two points. Russell putting pressure on Piastri, though. Those soft tyres are doing quite well for him so far.

04:22 AM BST

Lap 10 of 19 – It was a big lock-up the lap before

Probably cost him almost half a second. He didn’t exactly fight the move with Verstappen on the next lap all that hard, leaving the door ajar. I think, in any case, it was a matter of time but it would have been nicer coming on lap 14 rather than nine.

Now Verstappen has clean air he has putting in astonishingly quick laps – he now leads by 2.1sec.

04:20 AM BST

Lap 9 of 19 – Verstappen on the back of Hamilton here

Will Hamilton fight it? Will Verstappen get fighty and aggressive. He gets a bit squirmy on the exit of the long right-hander before the back straight but he will get DRS and surely gets the move done. Yes, he does.

A bit earlier in the lap he told Peter Bonnington, his race engineer, to let him get on with it as he could see Verstappen in his mirrors.

Verstappen leads.

04:19 AM BST

Lap 8 of 19 – Top eight and gaps

  1. HAM

  2. VER +0.7

  3. ALO +2.8

  4. SAI +3.4

  5. PER +4.0

  6. LEC +4.8

  7. NOR +5.3

  8. PIA +10.1

Hamilton has gone deep at the hairpin though allowing Verstappen to close up! This is almost a done deal, you feel. Sadly.

04:17 AM BST

Lap 7 of 19 – Verstappen into second

He gets DRS on the back straight and passes Alonso as easy as you like. I would definitely put Verstappen as the favourite here now. That is not a hard decision. Hamilton’s pace is still OKish but Verstappen was 0.4sec faster the last time around. He’s not happy with how the car is in the low speed corners.

04:15 AM BST

Lap 6 of 19 – Hamilton leads Alonso by 1.7sec

Verstappen has almost got to within DRS range of Alonso ahead but his pace advantage isn’t exactly massive. About a third of the way to go. Is Verstappen now favourite? Just, I think.

04:14 AM BST

Lap 5 of 19 – Hamilton’s pace is good

He extends his lead over Alonso to more than 1.5sec. Verstappen hasn’t closed massively on Alonso in the last lap or so. Zhou is just out of the points in ninth and Norris, the pole man, is down in seventh after a rocky start.

Hamilton looking in good form here.

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the sprint session ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the sprint session ahead of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 20, 2024

04:11 AM BST

Lap 4 of 19 – Top 8

  1. HAM

  2. ALO

  3. VER

  4. SAI

  5. PER

  6. LEC

  7. NOR

  8. PIA

Verstappen sets the fastest lap of the race so maybe he has solved his issues. He has gapped Sainz by 1.4sec so whatever they have done on the engine modes seems to have worked. Alonso 1.3sec behind Hamilton but Verstappen is going to be closing them down pretty soon I think.

04:10 AM BST

Lap 3 of 19 – Verstappen not happy

“Why is my battery flat?” he says. “Mode 8,” he is told. Russell up to 10th with a move on Magnussen.

04:09 AM BST

Lap 2 of 19 – Hamilton leads Alonso

It’s all pretty close at the front. Looking at the replays Norris got slightly bogged down and then Hamilton squeezed Norris and then he had nowhere to go. Legitimate racing, I think. Not sure if Hamilton ran wide intentionally or just ran out of grip.

Sainz is on the back of Verstappen now, who has dropped back a bit from the leaders. Not sure if he made a mistake or his tyres are just coming to temperature. Sainz locks up into the hairpin which won’t help his case but Verstappen is struggling here.

04:07 AM BST

The 2024 Chinese GP sprint is go!

It’s a great start from Hamilton but Norris’s first few corners is pretty disastrous! Hamilton has the inside line at turn one but it’s a long, long turn and Norris tries to stick it around the outside to keep the inside for turn two but he runs otu fo space and drops all the way back to seventh!

Hamilton leads Alonso and Verstappen. It’s then Sainz, Perez and Leclerc.

Sainz has a look at Verstappen at the hairpin but the Dutchman is a difficult proposition when it comes to overtaking and he drives a wide car.

19 laps to go.

04:02 AM BST

The formation lap is go

And everyone is away. A bit of a dodgy start for Norris. He will be hoping for betting when the real thing comes along…

04:00 AM BST

Starting tyre types

It’s mediums for everyone but George Russell.

03:58 AM BST

Right, not too long to go

Here’s a reminder of the grid:

1. NOR 2. HAM
3. ALO 4. VER
5. SAI 6. PER
7. LEC 8. PIA
9. BOT 10. ZHO
11. RUS 12. MAG
13. HUL 14. RIC
15. STR 16. GAS
17. OCO 18. ALB
18. TSU 20. SAR

03:48 AM BST

A reminder that it’s championship points for the top eight

Eight for the winner down to one for the eighth-placed man. It doesn’t really make a great deal of difference to those at the front but for a team like Haas or Sauber – who have two cars in the top 10 today – it does. Haas have had a decent start to the season with a few points finishes but Sauber have been poor and are pointless. Can Bottas or Zhou get pick up some today? A Zhou points finish would be popular…

03:41 AM BST

Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer speaks to Sky Sports

I think it’s going to be a bit of a struggle with track temp. A little bit of sunshine is going to push it one way or another.

The sun is shining… just about. Looks like a decent attendance which hasn’t always been the case here. It hasn’t been terrible, for a while, though. Attendances up everywhere, really.

03:39 AM BST

A bit of a confusing end to sprint qualifying yesterday

That’s good, though. I’m pretty excited for turn one today.

03:34 AM BST

The pit lane is open

And drivers are making their laps to the grid. It’s dry out there today and with almost no chance of rain. Doesn’t mean we won’t get a good sprint race, but it does make Max Verstappen’s run to the front a lot more likely. He starts fourth today.

03:32 AM BST

Times and positions after sprint qualifying

  1. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1min 57.940secs

  2. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:59.201

  3. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Aston Martin 1:59.915

  4. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 2:00.028

  5. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 2:00.214

  6. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 2:00.375

  7. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 2:00.566

  8. Oscar Piastri (Aus) McLaren 2:00.990

  9. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Kick Sauber 2:01.044

  10. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Kick Sauber 2:03.537

  11. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:36.345

  12. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:36.473

  13. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Haas F1 1:36.478

  14. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) RB 1:36.553

  15. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:36.677

  16. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Alpine 1:37.632

  17. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:37.720

  18. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:37.812

  19. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) RB 1:37.892

  20. Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams 1:37.923,

03:24 AM BST

Good morning F1 fans

It’s a very early start once again, though hopefully one worth getting up for. F1 returns to China for the first running of the Chinese Grand Prix since 2019 and yesterday’s running did not disappoint. The drivers only had a single hour of practice before jumping into qualifying for today’s sprint race. Not many of them were all that happy about it, but so what. You are the best drivers in the world, so deal with it.

In any case, this lack of familiarity with the Shanghai International Circuit was not what created an entertaining sprint qualifying, it was the rain. Just before SQ1 it started spitting. The drivers got through on slick tyres for that session before it started pelting it down in SQ2. George Russell did not put in a first lap good enough to make the top 10 and the weather meant it was impossible to improve. And so he was out.

By the start of SQ3 the conditions were poor. Not poor enough for full wet tyres admittedly but difficult enough for several drivers to run off. Charles Leclerc spun his Ferrari into the barriers but luckily the damage to his front wing was not significant to end his session. Even Max Verstappen struggled with the conditions, having a couple of offs, running into the gravel in the final corner.

In the final reckoning it was Lando Norris who crossed the line fastest, though with some confusion. Initially his fastest lap was shown as deleted for exceeding track limits at the final turn meaning his following lap – which was shown as fast enough to beat Hamilton – was also discounted. But just as it looked Hamilton had secured top spot, Norris’s lap was reinstated to slight confusion.

It’s Norris, Hamilton, Alonso and Verstappen on the front two rows for the sprint race, which begins at 4am. We will be here for that as well as qualifying for the main grand prix later this morning. Let’s hope it’s as good as yesterday.

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