Verstappen clinches stop-start Chinese GP win as Norris holds off Perez for second

Max Verstappen led Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and McLaren runner-up Lando Norris at the F1 2024 Chinese GP

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Max Verstappen cruised to victory in the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix as the result never looked in doubt despite two safety cars disrupting the race, but Lando Norris surged to second ahead of Sergio Perez.

Norris did perform a post-race gaffe as he didn’t realise he had to pull onto the main straight as a podium finisher but deservedly took the plaudits, while Lewis Hamilton recovered from a terrible qualifying and first half of the race to finish ninth.

With Perez in third after losing positions under the safety cars, the Ferraris rounded out the top five led by Charles Leclerc – who almost initiated a first-lap clash with his teammate.

George Russell was bailed out by a strategy error from Aston Martin to take sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso, with Hamilton just a second behind Oscar Piastri and Nico Hulkenberg scoring yet another point for Haas.

And while Zhou Guanyu couldn’t haul his Sauber into the points, he was still treated to an emotional moment post-race as the home favourite was allowed to pull up on the main straight and salute the crowd whilst earning a far bigger cheer than greeted any of the top three.

String of incidents creates race of two halves

Valtteri Bottas pulled up at turn 11 on lap 20 with an engine failure that led to a three-lap VSC and then, very belatedly, a full safety car called to dash what could’ve been an enthralling five-car battle for second.

Lance Stroll rear-ended Daniel Ricciardo – who had been in contention for his first points of the season – at the penultimate corner as that first safety car period was ending with the field concertinaing due to an Alonso lock-up ahead, while Kevin Magnussen then tagged Yuki Tsunoda with a brainless turn six divebomb to bring out another safety car.

The Stroll collision meant Ricciardo was missing half of his rear diffuser and he retired immediately after Tsunoda in a painful few laps for RB.

Ferrari fitted old hards on Sainz which meant the Spaniard couldn’t fight to continue his streak of a podium in every race he’s started in 2024 but he still managed fifth thanks to Aston Martin‘s even poorer decision to give Alonso a set of softs at the first safety car.

Alonso was forced to pull out of the top five to pit again but the two-time champion put on an overtaking clinic in the final 12 laps, making five overtakes to take seventh with the fastest lap.

Hamilton’s belated fightback earns points

Lewis Hamilton at 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sam Bloxham
Lewis Hamilton at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sam Bloxham

The first time Formula 1 has taken on the strangest first-corner complex on the calendar in five years produced a dynamic start up and down the field.

After team principal Fred Vasseur had stressed the importance of his drivers focussing on the long-term race result rather than fighting each other, both Ferraris lost ground to Russell and Hulkenberg as Leclerc ran Sainz wide at the first turn.

And while Verstappen‘s trademark clean getaway put him clear of the action but Perez couldn’t say the same, as Alonso made the long run around the outside of turn one to take a popular second-place in front of the Chinese crowd.

However, that ultimately backfired on Alonso as he burned through his medium tryes defending Perez for five laps before the Red Bull eventually got past with Norris and the Ferraris following suit in quick succession.

With Verstappen always on course for the win, there was an enticing setup in the battle behind after the first round of pitstops with Norris and Leclerc aiming for a one-stop and Perez, Sainz and Piastri running two-stop strategies behind but the safety car wiped out that setup.

It did bail out Hamilton though, he’d made two pitstops before the first safety car was called and could barely make any ground against the backmarkers in the first part of the race, but found his groove in the second half to take two morale-boosting points.

“I can’t even catch him mate. This car is so slow.”

Hamilton behind Esteban Ocon early in his second stint of the race in 14th place

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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