Lando Norris secures pole in a chaotic Sprint qualifying in Shanghai

Lando Norris secures pole in a chaotic Sprint qualifying in Shanghai

Lando Norris secured pole in a wet and chaotic qualifying session for Saturday’s F1 sprint at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

McLaren’s Lando Norris secured the most recent pole position amid the chaos in sprint qualifying after rain soaked the SQ3 following the red-flagged first session, which was caused by an on-track fire.

However, Norris’ benchmark laptime was deleted and Lewis Hamilton was slated to capture the sprint pole. Fortunately, the stewards reinstated it before the checkered flag, dropping the seven-time world champion to second.

Yet another grass fire at the track’s edge, similar to the one during practice, interrupted the session as the FIA linked the fire to the sparks generated by the cars.

Due to the brief interruption between the first and second segments to clear the area, the anticipated rain fell in the final moments of SQ2, stopping any more attempts. Water had completely soaked the track by SQ3.

None of the ten drivers who had advanced chose to challenge for the sprint pole despite plainly fighting to keep their cars on the track as they all opted out of switching to the intermediates.

Charles Leclerc was one of the drivers without the wets resulting to his crash into the barriers early in the session but was able to pull himself out of the gravel, with his Ferrari fortunately escaping serious damage.

While no other driver experienced a particularly dramatic incident, Norris and championship leader Max Verstappen were still involved in some off-track mishaps that cost them laps.

The McLaren driver went off at the final turn on his preceding push lap, which would have typically meant he lost that lap as well, even though it proved to be of no advantage in the conditions. This was also the reason for his brief lap deletion and for now it remains unclear why Norris’s lap was reinstated.

Hamilton was still 1.261 seconds behind Norris despite the fact that he had consistently improved his lap times as Mercedes had perfectly timed its run plan to let the Briton start his final flying lap just before the checkered flag.

Fernando Alonso had held onto the provisional pole position up until the very end. However, he was forced to settle for third place, a tenth ahead of Verstappen in fourth, with Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez following closely behind in fifth and sixth respectively.

Eventually, Leclerc managed to secure seventh place, while Oscar Piastri in the sister McLaren finished eighth, three seconds behind Norris. The Aussie experienced a wheelspin out of the hairpin on his final lap and his gearbox slid into neutral.

The two Saubers sealed the SQ3 order, with Valtteri Bottas leading local hero Guanyu Zhou, who received a huge round of applause from the locals for making it to the final qualifying stage.

George Russell was the fastest of those out in SQ2 after his first and only effort, finishing six hundredths behind teammate Hamilton. He complained about the loss of tyre temperature as he had lined up behind several others to leave the pitlane as soon as possible.

Following him were the Haas drivers with Kevin Magnussen coming in only 0.005 seconds ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg. The RB duo followed as Daniel Ricciardo for the first time this season outqualified Yuki Tsunoda after finishing nearly six-tenths ahead of the Japanese driver in SQ1.

Practice leader Lance Stroll finished 15th for Aston, over half a second slower than Alonso in SQ2. Both Alpines were eliminated in SQ1 after Russell denied Pierre Gasly a SQ2 spot in the final moments of the opening stage. The Mercedes driver was significantly faster in the last sector after having been slower in the previous two.

Gasly’s only consolation was that he outqualified teammate Esteban Ocon, who is the only one running on the upgraded Alpine floor this weekend.

Alpines were at least faster than the Williams cars; Alex Albon came in 18th place while Logan Sargeant, who finished tenth off the lead in 20th place, told the team that he “gave everything he had” after his lap.

Although it was the closest Sargeant had gotten to Albon in qualifying this year, Tsunoda only managed a single solid laptime and was complaining on the radio about lack of grip as he finished a disappointing 19th.

2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying Results

1Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m36.384s1m36.047s1m57.940s
2Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1m37.181s1m36.287s1m59.201s
3Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Aramco F1 Team1m36.883s1m36.119s1m59.915s
4Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1m36.456s1m35.606s2m00.028s
5Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari1m36.719s1m36.052s2m00.214s
6Sergio PerezMEXOracle Red Bull Racing1m36.110s1m35.781s2m00.375s
7Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1m36.537s1m35.711s2m00.566s
8Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m36.542s1m35.853s2m00.990s
9Valtteri BottasFINStake F1 Team Kick Sauber1m37.112s1m36.056s2m01.044s
10Zhou GuanyuCHNStake F1 Team Kick Sauber1m37.544s1m36.307s2m03.537s
11George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1m37.310s1m36.345s 
12Kevin MagnussenDENMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1m37.033s1m36.473s 
13Nico HulkenbergGERMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1m36.924s1m36.478s 
14Daniel RicciardoAUSVisa Cash App RB F1 Team1m37.321s1m36.553s 
15Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco F1 Team1m36.961s1m36.677s 
16Pierre GaslyFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m37.632s  
17Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m37.720s  
18Alex AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1m37.812s  
19Yuki TsunodaJPNVisa Cash App RB F1 Team1m37.892s  
20Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Racing1m37.923s  

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