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Formula 1: Verstappen wins enthralling Shanghai F1 Sprint ahead of Chinese Grand Prix

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Formula 1: Verstappen wins enthralling Shanghai F1 Sprint ahead of Chinese Grand Prix

Shanghai (China), April 20 (IANS) Red Bull’s Max Verstappen rose from fourth on the grid to take victory in Saturday’s entertaining 2024 Formula 1 Sprint race in Shanghai, ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix main race.

Verstappen, the defending Drivers’ Champion, had started only fourth after an error in Friday’s wet qualifying session, and spent the opening laps of the Sprint in third, at one point complaining to his team about a lack of battery power. However, the Dutchman soon found his rhythm, closing up on and passing Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso for second on lap 7, before disposing of Lewis Hamilton for the lead two laps later after the Briton had lost time running wide at the Turn 15 hairpin.

From then on, Verstappen was not unduly troubled and ultimately crossed the line 13 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Hamilton, reports Xinhua.

“The first few laps were quite hectic, they were pushing quite hard at the front, and I had Carlos behind with new tyres so it was very difficult initially,” said Verstappen afterwards. “But we became stronger, and I felt more comfortable with the balance of the car as well, and I could look after my tyres, so very pleased with that.”

Behind the top two, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez took third place after several laps of close racing between himself, Alonso and the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Alonso had been third and was defending from Sainz when the two touched, allowing Perez to vault past both of them and landing Alonso with a puncture, after which Aston Martin directed the Spaniard to retire his car.

Leclerc and Sainz ultimately took fourth and fifth, with Leclerc seemingly unhappy that his teammate had run him off the road at Turn 15. Polesitter Lando Norris salvaged sixth for McLaren, after having lost several places at the first corner as he ran off track defending from Hamilton, with Norris’ teammate Oscar Piastri ultimately taking seventh.

George Russell took eighth and the final points place for Mercedes, with local hero Zhou Guanyu falling agonizingly short of points in his Sauber with ninth place.

Following the Sprint, Verstappen still leads the Drivers’ Championship with 85 points. Perez remains second on 70, with Leclerc third on 64 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull’s total now stands at 155 points. Ferrari is second on 129, with McLaren third on 74 points.

With the dust having settled on the Sprint race, attention now turns to the main qualifying session later on Saturday, which will determine the starting grid for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

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