Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen wins in dominant fashion at the Chinese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen completed a very strong weekend as he claimed at the first Chinese Grand Prix in five years.

Max Verstappen started the race incredibly well, launching himself from the grid spot far better than his teammate, and was able to easily protect his first place. Fernando Alonso also had himself a good start, as he sailed round the outside of Sergio Perez at turn 1 to take 2nd place.

It would not be long though before Perez would regain this position, diving down the inside of Alonso at turn 6 on lap 5. To stay ahead, Alonso appeared to be pushing his tyres more, which would be encouraging for Lando Norris, who was chasing a 15th career podium.

Norris would utilise his pace advantage to overtake Alonso on lap 7,utilising the DRS to pull alongside the Aston Martin driver into the hairpin of turn 14. a little further back with Charles Leclerc was demonstrating some strong race pace to work his way up from 7th, having lost a place at the start of the race. He started with a move round the outside of turn 1 on Russell, followed by a move down the inside of Piastri to take 5th place on lap 10.

The first round of pit stops came early as drivers looked set to have a two stop race. Hamilton had initially started on the softs, hoping to utilise the grip advantage to work his way up from 18th, but it was not a strong tyre to be on, and the seven time world champion was very happy to move off them. At the other side of the grid, Red Bull executed a perfect double stack in the pits, managing to service both Verstappen and Perez in 2.1 and 2 seconds respectively.

Valtteri Bottas was having a very strong weekend up to this point, though on race day his afternoon would come to a premature end, as his car suffered a mechanical issue. Given that the car appeared to be stuck in gear, and Bottas was unable to remove his car to a safe area, a Virtual Safety car was deployed, which would go on to be upgraded to a full Safety Car.

This was music to the ears of Norris and Leclerc, who were both still yet to pit. Whilst Verstappen was too far ahead to lose his first place when he came in for his second stop, Sergio Perez would drop down to 4th.

There would be chaos as the race was about to resume, as Stroll would clumsily run into the back of Daniel Ricciardo. The resulting damage would mean that Stroll would need to make an extra stop to repair his front wing, whilst Ricciardo would have to retire from the race entirely.

Ricciardo’s teammate would not be safe either, as Tsunoda would be spun round only a few corners into the race resumption by Kevin Magnussen, picking up a tyre puncture in the process, and forcing the Japanese driver to retire as well, concluding what turned into a horror result for RB.

Sergio Perez had been stuck behind Leclerc for a little while following the safety car periods, but would finally be able to regain a place on the podium on lap 39, despite Leclerc’s best efforts to fight it. Perez would now hope to chase down Norris for 2nd, but he was too far behind in the end, and Norris possessed enough pace to keep the Red Bull at bay.

Fernando Alonso had gambled on taking the soft compound tyres during the safety car period, whilst the rest of the grid would aim to get to the end on hard tyres. This did mean that he would need to pit once more in this race, which would occur on lap 44, and the F1 veteran would begin to work his way back up the field, starting with a move on Esteban Ocon on lap 46 to get back into the points.

Alonso would then get into 9th with a simple pass on Nico Hulkenberg. He was now chasing Lewis Hamilton, who had done well to recover from 18th and a poor first stint to get into 8th. However, Alonso nearly took himself out of the race whilst on this charge up the field, as he dipped his car into the gravel at the final corner, akin to Sainz’s spin in qualifying. However, unlike Sainz, Alonso was able to keep control of his car, though only just.

Eventually Alonso would overtake Lewis Hamilton on lap 49. There would be one more overtake left for the Spaniard in this race, as he would get Piastri into the turn 14 hairpin, ending his race in 7th position.

This race was Verstappen’s first win at the Chinese Grand Prix, and takes him 25 points clear at the top of the standings. The next race will be in two weeks time for the third running of the Miami Grand Prix, which will also be a sprint race weekend.


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