Formula 1: Norris stuns with wet pole for Chinese Grand Prix Sprint race in Shanghai

Advertisement

Lando Norris will start from pole position in Saturday’s F1 Sprint in Shanghai after having his fastest lap removed and then reinstated in a thrilling rain-affected qualifying session. Norris’ best time of 1:57.940 was a full 1.3 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and came after the McLaren driver’s time was initially deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 16 before quickly being reinstated.

With the Shanghai International Circuit having recently been resurfaced with a layer of bitumen, the track proved extremely slippery as rain intensified in the closing stages of the session. Several drivers slid and ran wide in the damp conditions, and Charles Leclerc was lucky to avoid damage as his Ferrari tapped the wall following a high-speed spin, reports Xinhua. Behind the front two, Fernando Alonso ended the session third for Aston Martin, with championship leader Max Verstappen only fourth in his Red Bull after having run wide at the end of his first push lap.

Carlos Sainz took fifth for Ferrari, ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Perez in sixth. Leclerc recovered from his mishap to finish seventh, with Norris’ teammate Oscar Piastri in eighth. Valtteri Bottas will start the Sprint ninth for Sauber, with teammate Zhou Guanyu delighting the partisan crowd by ending the session tenth at his home circuit. George Russell was a notable casualty of the rain that began to intensify towards the end of Q2, failing to get a banker lap in early and finishing up 11th.

Advertisement

The Haas twins of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg ended up 12th and 13th, with RB’s Daniel Ricciardo 14th and Alonso’s teammate Lance Stroll 15th. Further down the field, the five drivers condemned to start 16th to 20th after having fallen in the first segment were the Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, Williams’ Alex Albon, Yuki Tsunoda in the second RB, and Albon’s teammate Logan Sargeant.

Reflecting on the achievement post-session, Norris said: “I’m extremely happy, first of all. A big thanks to the whole team. It was tricky, you’re always nervous going into a session like this, especially for quali when you almost know it’s going to rain. Just as had happened in the morning’s practice session, a dry patch of grass on the infield of Turn 5 appeared to have been set alight by sparks from passing cars, forcing the start of Q2 to be delayed while marshals extinguished the flames. The Chinese Grand Prix weekend is the first of six in 2024 to feature a Sprint event, with Saturday morning’s 19-lap race to be followed by the qualifying session for Sunday’s Grand Prix.