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F1 Chinese GP: Verstappen beats Hamilton to sprint win

Reigning Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen claimed victory in the Chinese Grand Prix sprint race after passing Lewis Hamilton for the lead on the ninth lap.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The championship leader appeared out of sorts in the opening flurry of laps as he struggled to charge his battery with the selected hybrid settings, but a series of changes on his steering wheel appeared to rectify the issue.

With greater forward momentum, Verstappen pulled himself out of third with a simple DRS overtake on the second-placed Fernando Alonso, and then pounced on a Turn 14 lock-up from Hamilton close in for victory.

Polesitter Lando Norris had suffered a poorer start in comparison to Hamilton and, once the first corner began to approach, the Mercedes driver was level alongside the McLaren.

Norris attempted to hang his car around the outside as the circuit coiled into the long right-hander at the start of the lap, but Hamilton kept his car in the middle of the road at the switching point to the left-handed Turn 3. This left Norris out of road, where he ultimately dropped to seventh.

After emerging with the lead, Hamilton started to gap Alonso and built a healthy 1.4-second buffer by the time the Spaniard came under attack from a Verstappen with renewed vigour.

The seas appeared to part for Verstappen as the Aston Martin driver did not fight the Red Bull driver with DRS, and a lap later Hamilton snatched at his left-front tyre at Turn 14 to lose time.

This gave Verstappen a slam-dunk opportunity to pass for the lead on the ninth lap, which he duly took and waltzed off into the distance by gapping Hamilton at the rate of more than a second per lap. At the flag, Verstappen claimed victory by 13 seconds.

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Hamilton remained unchallenged for second, while Sergio Perez snatched third after winning out in a thrilling scrap between himself, Alonso, and the two Ferraris.

Alonso had started to drop back after initially clinging on to Hamilton, slowly looming larger in Carlos Sainz's vision as the Ferrari driver had the edge on pace over the second half. The pressure started to ratchet up between the two Spanish drivers and Sainz started to throw a few barbs Alonso's way, but the Aston Martin remained in front.

Perez and Charles Leclerc also joined the fray and, when Alonso and Sainz went wheel to wheel through Turns 7 and 8 with contact, Perez took full advantage of the situation and stole past at the following corner.

Third place was sealed when the Ferraris fought with each other rather than attempt to re-pass Perez, with Leclerc being shown the door on more than one occasion before eventually clearing Sainz for fourth. In the meantime, Alonso had dropped out of the race with a puncture after his contact with Sainz.

Norris, after his first-lap wide moment, was in touching distance with the pack in contention for third but could not work his way into the thick of that battle, but at least was well ahead of team-mate Oscar Piastri in seventh place. George Russell completed the top eight with a gamble on soft tyres, finishing 6.2s clear of home hero Zhou Guanyu to collect the final point on offer.

F1 Chinese GP - Sprint results:

Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Chassis Engine
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 19


      8   Red Bull Red Bull
2 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 19



13.043     7   Mercedes Mercedes
3 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 19



2.215     6   Red Bull Red Bull
4 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 19



2.228     5   Ferrari Ferrari
5 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 19



3.210     4   Ferrari Ferrari
6 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 19



1.392     3   McLaren Mercedes
7 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 19



2.625     2   McLaren Mercedes
8 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 19



0.983     1   Mercedes Mercedes
9 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 19



6.255         Sauber Ferrari
10 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 19



5.447         Haas Ferrari
11 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 19



0.442         RB Red Bull
12 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 19



0.455         Sauber Ferrari
13 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 19



1.546         Alpine Renault
14 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 19



0.458         Aston Martin Mercedes
15 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 19



0.539         Alpine Renault
16 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 19



1.032         RB Red Bull
17 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 19



1.128         Williams Mercedes
18 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 19



3.354         Williams Mercedes
19 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 19



3.278         Haas Ferrari
dnf Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 17


    2   Collision Aston Martin Mercedes

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