Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Ranked: The 10 F1 teams at the 2024 Chinese GP

Just as it looked like Ferrari was beginning to tighten its stranglehold on the lesser Formula 1 title of "best of the rest", McLaren and Lando Norris surprised in China.

Max Verstappen dominated once again, having hinted at his clear advantage in pace during Saturday's sprint race, but it did not go all Red Bull's own way as Sergio Perez was leapfrogged in the stops.

No team was able to quite enjoy an error-free day, as the two safety cars put decision-making under the microscope, but it certainly ensured that China's return to the calendar was not a one-dimensional affair.

1. Red Bull

Miles quicker than anyone else, demonstrated by a) Verstappen's sprint win from fourth on the grid, and b) his seemingly effortless victory in the grand prix. Good traction ensured that he could gun the throttle on the exit of Turn 14 both times to preserve his lead through the safety car restarts, and had the pace in hand to make a two-stop strategy work without too much in the way of time loss.

Perez admittedly drew the short straw on strategy and fell behind Norris and Charles Leclerc after his second stop but, had he not been so far behind Verstappen, then the double-stack might have offered the Mexican a more felicitous second half.

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

2. McLaren 

Citing the plethora of low-speed corners and long-radius turns, McLaren anticipated a struggle in China - "damage limitation", as team principal Andrea Stella termed it. But Norris and McLaren put together an incredibly strong race to secure second; although it looked as though the team might have missed the boat on stopping Norris under the virtual safety car, the delay in removing Valtteri Bottas' stranded Sauber offered a second bite at the cherry.

When Red Bull stopped again, this handed Norris second in the order. Crucially, his race pace was a snip above the pursuing Perez, allowing him to maintain a five-second gap over third place to bag a surprise podium.

Oscar Piastri initially struggled in relation to Norris and could not keep tabs on his more experienced team-mate, but did an admirable job in keeping Lewis Hamilton behind despite diffuser damage sustained in the first restart congestion.

3. Ferrari

It wasn't the performance that most expected from Ferrari, but that's hardly the team's fault; the expected front tyre graining wasn't present in Shanghai and thus it did not have a slight advantage to exploit. Regardless, both drivers managed to make a one-stop strategy work despite suggestions of fading pace in the latter stages of the race.

Leclerc defended well from Perez after the safety car periods but ultimately didn't quite have the pace in reserve to stifle the Red Bull driver for too long. For his part, Sainz had a more precarious job to do in managing his hard tyres over a 38-lap stint but kept the life in them enough to chalk up a well-worked fifth place.

4. Haas

Another team to anticipate struggles in China, Haas earned a valuable point through Nico Hulkenberg thanks to the German's strong pace over the other midfielders. Qualifying ninth rather helped the situation, and Hulkenberg managed to keep tabs on a recovering Hamilton through to the end of the grand prix.

Kevin Magnussen's post-restart assault on Tsunoda was clumsy and worthy of the penalty that he had accrued as a result but had decent pace to try and recover. Nonetheless, Hulkenberg is exerting a clear advantage in the Haas camp and Ayao Komatsu would do well to retain the ex-Renault driver as Audi continues to sniff around the more established drivers on the grid for its future F1 effort.

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

5. Aston Martin

Putting Fernando Alonso on soft tyres during the safety car period might have promised more than an iota of fun versus those running the hard compound, but it initially felt incongruous with the strategies played by the other teams. It didn't really offer a great deal either, save for a move on Carlos Sainz, and only necessitated another pitstop where he again had to make ground with the medium tyre. But that was the corner that Aston had painted itself into, as it had no more hard tyres left to play with - whether that's a team failing or a sprint weekend problem is probably subjective at this point.

Regardless, Alonso put a good show on at the start to cruise past Perez and then did the heavy lifting in the late-race excitement stakes with his moves through the order to claim a solid seventh place.

Stroll copped a 10-second penalty for dumping his AMR24 into the rear of Daniel Ricciardo moments before the opening restart, causing heavy damage to the RB driver's diffuser.

6. Mercedes

A solid haul of points, particularly given its struggles in qualifying. George Russell made up ground at the start to ensure he was in the hunt for more than token points and even had half a sniff at challenging Sainz for fifth before an ultimate retreat to preserve sixth place.

Lewis Hamilton's recovery was also solid, even after slow progress in the opening stint as the soft tyre failed to yield much of a payout in battling the cars towards the back. Using the VSC period to get onto the hard tyres ensured he not only mitigated the time he lost with a two-stopper but also gave him parity with the rest of the order in terms of strategy. He might have made more inroads into passing a wounded Piastri towards the end, but McLaren's pace was ultimately better - with or without damage.

7. Alpine

A new floor and a lighter chassis had been prepared early, and Esteban Ocon used those new components to sit on the cusp of the top 10 in a race that showed signs of promise for Alpine's developments.

The French squad's torrid season continues without a conciliatory point, but Ocon at least got within three seconds of Hulkenberg to demonstrate some degree of upward mobility and optimism at the Enstone team.

Pierre Gasly's race was less fortuitous having been in the wars somewhat, although one could argue that he was too eager to dive into the run-off in the hunt for a penalty. But he did a decent job pace-wise in both qualifying and the race, despite the lack of updates on his car. He'll get the new package in Miami.

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

8. Williams

Hurt by Pirelli's decision to up the starting tyre pressures by 1psi, Williams never really looked like breaking into the fight for points; Alex Albon closed Esteban Ocon down towards the end, but the gap grew slightly as the Anglo-Thai driver couldn't make any further inroads. Already facing compromise, the team tried to improve its low-speed performance with its post-sprint set-up tweaks, but at the cost of higher-speed performance.

Nonetheless, Albon found it difficult to get the front end to bite in the heavier breaking zones, so 12th was probably the maximum achievable result given the car's limitations. Logan Sargeant was handed a 10-second penalty for appearing to pass the pit-exiting Nico Hulkenberg after the safety car line - although it could be construed as harsh given the margins were narrow.

9. Sauber

Zhou Guanyu gave the Chinese crowd something to smile about with a few passes towards the end after a late call for softs, but the Shanghai-born racer was already well out of points contention. A five-second pitstop also sapped at his race and arguably cost him a chance to challenge Gasly, but at least Sauber is no longer flummoxed by stops lasting around 30 seconds. A fix should be in place for Imola.

Valtteri Bottas had looked in contention for a point, however, but his Ferrari power unit died on the 20th lap to produce the first safety car period...eventually, as the FIA demurred in its decision-making process beyond the double-waved yellows.

10. RB

Both Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda were entangled in race-ending incidents either side of the safety car's first reintroduction to the pits; Ricciardo was speared by Stroll and sustained very heavy damage to his floor, while Tsunoda had to contend with Magnussen languidly careering into him at Turn 6 on the restart.

Neither RB driver was to blame, but the decision to put the Italian squad at the bottom of the list relates to a) bad luck, and b) the expected strategy being set to relinquish a possible points finish from its grasp.

The team elected not to pit Ricciardo, then ninth, under the safety car. The Australian had to stop again having only run medium tyres up until that point, and a safety car stop might have ensured he could preserve that assuming another set of hards were available. Tsunoda's early stops did not help the Japanese driver's cause either, as he hoped to recover from a poor qualifying session.

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Our writers rate the 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix
Next article Alonso explains mid-race soft tyre strategy in F1 Chinese GP

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe