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Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, leads Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24
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Analysis

Why Verstappen's China F1 win was a sideshow to the real battle

Max Verstappen’s run to another dominant victory may have blunted the ultimate excitement of the Chinese Grand Prix, but the battle for best-of-the-rest directly behind him was intriguing. Lando Norris came out on top, beating the better-fancied Sergio Perez and both Ferraris, which revealed the real story of Formula 1’s belated Shanghai return

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Much has changed in Formula 1’s landscape since the championship last arrived on Chinese shores in 2019. The long-awaited end to that hiatus, extended by the lingering effects of COVID-19 restrictions enforced in China, offered a fitting period of introspection to consider how F1 has moved on since. Very different cars aerodynamically now grace the field, while F1’s last visit also coincided with the start of its modern-day boom and entrance into the cultural zeitgeist, rather than sitting on the fringes as a niche sporting discipline.

Empires have fallen and risen in that five-year span. The Lewis Hamilton-led Mercedes hegemony feels like a distant memory, compared to the contemporary dominance of Max Verstappen and Red Bull. Case in point: Verstappen had never won the Chinese Grand Prix before this season; his machinery in the previous seasons never really anything better than the third-best car on the grid at that point. In today’s context, it’s really no surprise that he managed to end that barren spell this season.

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