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Max dominates to win his first Chinese GP: 'Amazing weekend'

Published on 21 April 2024 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen has claimed his first Chinese Grand Prix victory after a storming drive at the Shanghai International Circuit. From pole position, the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver dominated the race. Despite two safety cars, the world champion was able to utilise his superior pace to bring home his fourth win of the season. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished second, ahead of Max’s team mate Sergio Perez.

“It felt amazing. We were quick all weekend but the changes we made yesterday made the car even better to drive”, said Max. “It was a delight to drive, regardless of the tyres we were on. This track is tough on them, especially the front left. It did mean I had to manage it, but we were still able to gain four or five tenths every lap.”

Two safety cars in the middle of Grand Prix, did not deter Max from holding on to the lead. “The restarts were good and the car was just on rails. I could do with it what I wanted. These kinds of weekends are amazing to be a part of. It’s fantastic.”

In the final couple of laps, Max did ask the team to check for any damage or punctures due to some debris on the track. “You’re always hearing things and I’ve gone through a breakdown in the closing stages before. There was some debris on track and I drove past it doing 300 km/h. It easy to get a puncture on cold and old tyres so I wanted to double check.”

The next race of the season is the Miami Grand Prix in a fortnight, an event Max has won twice. “Normally that should be a good race for us. It should be more straightforward strategy wise, but it’s always a tricky track. I’m looking forward to it; it’s always a great and busy weekend.”

As the lights go out for the first Chinese Grand Prix since 2019, Max enjoys a clean getaway to hold on to the lead. Behind the Dutchman, Alonso produces a lightning start, followed by a daring move around Perez on the outside of turn one, granting the Spaniard second. It takes Perez five laps to get past the Spaniard, by which Max has eked out a five second advantage on his team mate.

Max comes into the pits for his stop on lap 14. After a 2.1 second service, he rejoins the race in fourth, doing so on the hard Pirelli compound. In the space of half a dozen laps, the Red Bull Racer passes Piastri for third, Leclerc for second and Norris for the lead.

A couple of laps later, lap 21, Valtteri Bottas’ Sauber grinds to a halt with engine problems. Race control issue a virtual safety car which Norris and Leclerc use to make their first stops. Meanwhile, the marshals are unable to push the Sauber to safety, forcing the safety car to make its first appearance of the day. This prompts Max to make a second stop, again opting for the hard Pirelli compound. When the race restarts in lap 27, Max comfortably holds on to the lead. Further back, the concertina effect results in Lance Stroll driving into the back of Daniel Ricciardo. In the midfield, Yuki Tsunoda is pushed into a spin by Kevin Magnussen resulting in a puncture and a damaged RB for the former. All the restart’s chaos combined, leads race control to sent the safety car out once more.

In lap 32, the race is resumed with Max consolidating his lead ahead of Norris and Leclerc. The latter is unable to hold on to the final step on the podium as Perez passes the Ferrari in lap 39 to clinch third. In the remainder of the race, the Mexican tries to close the gap to Norris, but the McLaren driver comfortably holds on to take second place.

In the closing stages, Ricciardo is forced to retire his RB after the collision with Stroll has caused significant damage to the Aussie’s diffuser. On track, the main action revolves around Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen who share an entertaining dice at the back of the field and Fernando Alonso who enjoys a late charge to seventh after a late final stop.

Results Grand Prix China:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT561:40:52.55425
2Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes56+13.773s18
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT56+19.160s15
4Charles LeclercLECFerrari56+23.623s12
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari56+33.983s10
6George RussellRUSMercedes56+38.724s8
7Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes56+43.414s7
8Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes56+56.198s4
9Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes56+57.986s2
10Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari56+60.476s1
11Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault56+62.812s0
12Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes56+65.506s0
13Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault56+69.223s0
14Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari56+71.689s0
15Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes56+82.786s0
16Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari56+87.533s0
17Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes56+95.110s0
0Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT33DNF0
0Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT26DNF0
0Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari19DNF0