Chinese Grand Prix 2024: Max Verstappen on pole with Lewis Hamilton 18th

Hamilton – who made a mistake in the hairpin, running wide and costing himself some time – said he had made “massive” set-up changes to his Mercedes after finishing second to Verstappen in the sprint race.

“I’ll give it my best shot – 18th is pretty bad,” Hamilton said. “When I was making the set-up changes, I was like: ‘It can’t get any worse, surely.’ And it did!”

Red Bull looked in a world of their own all day, even though Perez came close to being knocked out at the end of the first session after being caught up with traffic.

The surprise was Alonso, whose Aston Martin has not looked a match for Ferrari or McLaren generally this season, but third was an impressive outcome for the veteran Spaniard.

Alonso had run third for much of the sprint before damage from a collision with Sainz forced his retirement, but he made amends with a strong performance in qualifying for the grand prix.

Alonso said: “I had a moment in Turns One and Two and I was thinking about whether to abort or not, but we kept going and I set a good lap time. The car improved since this morning and we made a few changes.”

Sainz crashed at the end of his first lap in second qualifying but managed to get the Ferrari back to the pits minus its front wing, where Ferrari discovered it was otherwise undamaged.

Stewards later dismissed a protest against Sainz. Aston Martin argued that, on the basis of a rule that says a driver whose car stops on track will not be permitted to take any further part in qualifying, he should be disqualified. Stewards ruled that he was permitted to continue because he had not received outside assistance to restart his car.

He and Leclerc were Red Bull’s closest challengers in the second session, albeit more than 0.3secs off their pace, but they fell away in the final session allowing Alonso and the McLarens to start ahead.

Leclerc said: “We set up the car on my side mostly for the race, however we did not expect McLaren and Fernando to jump us.

“It is a bit further back than we would have liked but we have good race pace and tyre management which gives me confidence we can come back to third.”

Behind Russell, Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg and Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10.

At RB, Daniel Ricciardo had his best performance of the season in 12th, on the race the team changed his chassis in an attempt to find a solution to the Australian’s struggles so far this season.

Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was a mystified 19th, unable to explain his sudden lack of pace.

SOURCE: BBC Sport   (go to source)
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