Formula 1

Formula 1: Lando Norris takes pole in the first sprint qualifying of the season

Feature Image credit: @F1

Lando Norris took pole for tomorrow’s sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix after having his fastest lap reinstated after it was initially deleted for track limits.

SQ1

Dark clouds loomed over the Shanghai International Circuit as rain threatened to appear during the first competitive session held at the Chinese Grand Prix in five years. However, despite Piastri reporting some light drops of rain, it would not impact the running of SQ1.

The Mercedes cars did not look particularly fast during this session, with Hamilton only going 12th fastest and Russell 13th, sneaking through after having been under threat of being knocked out in SQ1 in the dying moments.

Esteban Ocon had made it out of the first stage of qualifying for the last two races, though he would not be able to make it three in a row in Shanghai, as he was only quick enough for 17th and was beaten by his teammate. An even more surprising exit was Yuki Tsunoda, whose one lap pace has been rather strong this year, though was only able to muster up a lap good enough for 19th.

There was a bizarre situation developing after the end of SQ1 as some grass on the circuit had caught on fire, causing a delay in proceedings. What was more bizarre was that this wasn’t even the first time this had happened today, as a similar situation occurred during free practice.

ELIMINATED

16. Pierre Gasly – Alpine +0.088

17. Esteban Ocon – Alpine +0.176

18. Alex Albon – Williams +0.268

19. Yuki Tsunoda – Alpha Tauri +0.348

20. Logan Sargeant – Williams +0.379

 

SQ2

The rain would begin to substantially fall in the latter stages of this session, making it effectively a one shot qualifying for everyone involved. This was particularly bad news for George Russell, who having already struggled during SQ1, set a lap that was only good enough for 11th place, ending his qualifying early.

It was great news for the home town hero Zhou Guanyu, who would be able to reach the final part of sprint qualifying for the first time at his home race. He was joined by his teammate Valtteri Bottas, making it Kick Sauber’s best qualifying of the year so far.

ELIMINATED

11. George Russell – Mercedes +0.038

12. Kevin Magnussen – Haas +0.166

13. Nico Hulkenberg – Haas +0.171

14. Daniel Ricciardo – RB +0.246

15. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin +0.370

 

SQ3

The rain had proven a difficult challenge for the drivers as they searched for the grip, with the track proving quite slippery due to resurfacing and the relative lack of use the track has seen since F1 last raced here five years ago. The likes of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris having gone off the track. Charles Leclerc had even spun and caused a pit of front of his car as he made contact with the barrier, though fortunately for him he was able to continue and get a new front wing.

Perez had set the early time to beat, but this was quickly improved upon by Verstappen, Alonso and Norris. Bottas had also taken an early second place, though would fall down the order as other drivers found more time throughout the session.

Norris had looked to be going quickest on his second lap, until the very last corner where he went deep and off track once again causing his lap to be deleted. Verstappen had struggled a bit more than usual in these conditions, and the only time that wasn’t invalidated was only good enough for fourth in the end.

Norris then went and set the fastest lap on his final run, though this had initially been deleted due to going wide at the final corner on the previous lap. This put Hamilton on course for a first pole position since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, with Alonso joining him on the front row. However, McLaren were able to successfully argue that Norris going wide at the final corner had not in fact given him an advantage coming into his final lap, where he would then get his pole time reinstated, pushing Hamilton down to second place.

Sprint Qualifying results

1. Lando Norris – McLaren 1:57.940

2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +1.261

3. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin +1.975

4. Max Verstappen – Red Bull +2.088

5. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari +2.274

6. Sergio Perez – Red Bull +2.435

7. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari +2.626

8. Oscar Piastri– McLaren +3.050

9. Valtteri Bottas – Kick Sauber +3.104

10. Zhou Guanyu – Kick Sauber +5.597

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