Max Verstappen denies Lewis Hamilton to win Chinese GP Sprint Race

The Dutchman shrugged off his worst sprint qualifying performance to deny Lewis Hamilton victory in Shanghai

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Max Verstappen continued his dominance of the F1 Sprint Race format with an impressive comeback drive to deny Lewis Hamilton an elusive victory at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Hamilton produced his best-ever qualifying performance for a Sprint in the wet on Friday to secure second. And the Mercedes star got off the line superbly, keeping the inside line as Norris ran out of road at Turn 1 and fell down to the order to seventh behind Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton looked in control out front as he started to look after his medium tyres, although the seven-time world champion was a nervous passenger inside the W15 complaining of poor speed in the slow corners.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Having taken the lead from Norris early on, he was on course to end a 50-race run without a victory going back to Saudi Arabia in 2021. That was until Verstappen got into his groove and begun finding some grip on the slippery surface after struggling to fend off Fernando Alonso in the early stages.

Those might have expected Verstappen to close in on Alonso from the start, but the Dutchman found himself struggling for pace and fighting off Carlos Sainz to keep third place as he complained of a flat battery to his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

But on Lap 7, Verstappen finally found some pace in the RB20 as he homed in on Alonso’s Aston Martin and passed him under DRS, with Hamilton only two seconds ahead.

Verstappen seizes on Hamilton error

The 39-year-old made an error at the hairpin, locking up his front brakes, to allow the Dutchman to close in and it wouldn’t take much of a guess to predict what would happen next.

By Lap 9, Verstappen snatched the lead with an overtake that looked all too easy over Hamilton, before building a commanding lead over the Mercedes, who just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the Red Bull.

His team-mate George Russell was on the comeback trail on the soft tyre after qualifying 11th, but only managed to get past the two Saubers of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, who collided on the first lap in an incident that would be reviewed by the stewards.

Unlike Verstappen, Sergio Perez found himself sandwiched between the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in a DRS train, with the two McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri in close pursuit.

On Lap 16, the battle finally came to a head as Alonso was passed by Perez for third, with Sainz and Leclerc also getting clear of the Spaniard in the space of two corners, before he suffered a devastating puncture.

And that left Sainz and Leclerc to fight for P4 between them, with the Monegasque coming out on top. Sainz had to settle for fifth ahead of Norris in sixth, with Piastri and Russell making up the final points places in seventh and eighth.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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