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Qualifying report

F1 Chinese GP: Norris takes sprint pole in chaotic dry-to-wet qualifying

Lando Norris took pole for the Chinese Grand Prix's sprint race as the McLaren Formula 1 driver had a deleted 1m57.940s lap reinstated to beat Lewis Hamilton.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Rain emerged at the end of the SQ2 session and continued to pepper the Shanghai circuit during the intermission, necessitating the use of intermediate tyres for the final stage of qualifying to decide pole.

Track conditions were evidently very slippery, as a number of drivers over-extended beyond the circuit's environs and had to recover from the run-off; Charles Leclerc hit the wall after spinning on the exit of Turn 8, but was able to gather up his Ferrari and stopped for a new front wing and warmer, fresher intermediates.

Oscar Piastri got the session off with a lap above the two-minute mark, which was beaten by Sergio Perez, as the Red Bull driver led the line to begin with.

Fernando Alonso then supplanted the Mexican, posting a 2m00.213s to ensure he could factor in the fight for pole, but this was subsequently beaten by the first sub-two-minute lap from Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a 1m59.321s.

Norris had gone off on the lap prior to a mighty 1m57.940s, which had thrust the Briton into provisional pole, but this was then subject to an unexplained deletion.

Hamilton thus looked in line for pole and a 1m59.201s follow-up appeared to cement that, but Norris' time was reinstated and ensured an all-British front row for Saturday's sprint race.

Alonso was third fastest over Max Verstappen, who endured a number of wayward moments before finally stitching a clean lap together with his final effort of the session.

Carlos Sainz and Perez locked out the third row ahead of Leclerc, who recovered enough to set a time, while Piastri could only manage eighth fastest. The two Saubers of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu completed the top 10.

The start of SQ2 faced a minor delay as, like FP1, the grass lining the circuit spontaneously combusted and needed to be extinguished. With rain due, the drivers got their elbows out when the pit exit light eventually went green to preserve track position, although neither Red Bull fancied joining the skirmish.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Mark Sutton

George Russell dropped to 11th when the times had shaken out and, despite opting to go for another lap, the rain finally emerged and sapped at his time in the opening sector.

He was six tenths adrift of Zhou's cut-off benchmark and had to abandon his effort to purloin the Chinese driver's SQ3 berth - sending the home crowd into audible raptures.

Kevin Magnussen outqualified Haas team-mate Nico Hulkenberg as the two took 12th and 13th on the sprint race grid, while Daniel Ricciardo and free practice leader Lance Stroll also fell short on their single flying laps.

Spots of rain were evident in SQ1, although appeared to have little effect on the times escalating throughout the first stage of sprint qualifying.

Russell staged a late escape from the elimination zone in SQ1 having dropped to the bottom of the order, finding three tenths in the final sector over the cut-off time from Pierre Gasly to squeak through into the next round.

This dumped Gasly into the bottom five, ensuring that he joined Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon in being eliminated in the opening stage of the session.

Alex Albon dropped out in 18th, the two Williams drivers split by Yuki Tsunoda as Logan Sargeant was bottom of the pile at the chequered flag.

Tsunoda had not been able to set a somewhat representative time until his final run, but could not find enough in hand to join RB team-mate Ricciardo into SQ2 as he struggled with a lap of grip.

F1 Chinese GP sprint qualifying results

SQ3

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 5

1'57.940

  166.386
2 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 5

+1.261

1'59.201

1.261 164.626
3 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 5

+1.975

1'59.915

0.714 163.645
4 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 5

+2.088

2'00.028

0.113 163.491
5 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 5

+2.274

2'00.214

0.186 163.238
6 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 5

+2.435

2'00.375

0.161 163.020
7 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 5

+2.626

2'00.566

0.191 162.762
8 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 5

+3.050

2'00.990

0.424 162.191
9 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 5

+3.104

2'01.044

0.054 162.119
10 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 5

+5.597

2'03.537

2.493 158.847

SQ2

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 3

1'35.606

  205.254
2 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 4

+0.105

1'35.711

0.105 205.029
3 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 3

+0.175

1'35.781

0.070 204.879
4 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 3

+0.247

1'35.853

0.072 204.725
5 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 3

+0.441

1'36.047

0.194 204.312
6 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 4

+0.446

1'36.052

0.005 204.301
7 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 4

+0.450

1'36.056

0.004 204.293
8 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 3

+0.513

1'36.119

0.063 204.159
9 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 4

+0.681

1'36.287

0.168 203.803
10 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 4

+0.701

1'36.307

0.020 203.760
11 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 4

+0.739

1'36.345

0.038 203.680
12 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 4

+0.867

1'36.473

0.128 203.410
13 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 4

+0.872

1'36.478

0.005 203.399
14 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 3

+0.947

1'36.553

0.075 203.241
15 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 3

+1.071

1'36.677

0.124 202.981

SQ1

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 4

1'36.110

  204.178
2 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 5

+0.274

1'36.384

0.274 203.598
3 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 4

+0.346

1'36.456

0.072 203.446
4 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 6

+0.427

1'36.537

0.081 203.275
5 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 7

+0.432

1'36.542

0.005 203.264
6 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 6

+0.609

1'36.719

0.177 202.892
7 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 6

+0.773

1'36.883

0.164 202.549
8 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 6

+0.814

1'36.924

0.041 202.463
9 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 5

+0.851

1'36.961

0.037 202.386
10 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 6

+0.923

1'37.033

0.072 202.236
11 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 7

+1.002

1'37.112

0.079 202.071
12 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 6

+1.071

1'37.181

0.069 201.928
13 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 6

+1.200

1'37.310

0.129 201.660
14 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 6

+1.211

1'37.321

0.011 201.637
15 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 7

+1.434

1'37.544

0.223 201.176
16 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 6

+1.522

1'37.632

0.088 200.995
17 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 6

+1.610

1'37.720

0.088 200.814
18 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 6

+1.702

1'37.812

0.092 200.625
19 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 6

+1.782

1'37.892

0.080 200.461
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 6

+1.813

1'37.923

0.031 200.398

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