Max Verstappen (file photo). Alamy Stock Photo

Max Verstappen wins Chinese Grand Prix to extend title grip

The three-time world champion controlled the first Chinese Grand Prix for five years.

MAX VERSTAPPEN ROUNDED off a dominant weekend with victory in the first Chinese Grand Prix for five years on Sunday to extend his world championship lead a day after romping to sprint victory.

The three-time world champion controlled the race on its return to the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time since 2019 to finish 13.7 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez third.

He was only denied a 100 percent points-scoring weekend when Fernando Alonso picked up the bonus for the fastest lap around the 5.451 kilometre track on the outskirts of the Chinese megacity after a late switch to fresh tyres.

It was another all-conquering display from Verstappen, who won his fourth grand prix this season to add to his sprint victory.

Only a rare brake failure in Melbourne denied Verstappen the chance of a clean sweep in all five races in 2024, as he marches inexorably towards a fourth consecutive world title.

“It felt amazing, all weekend we were incredibly quick,” said Verstappen, who recorded his first victory in China.

“It felt amazing, it was so enjoyable to drive on every single compound. The car was on rails, I could do whatever I wanted to do with it.”

The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fourth and fifth, George Russell was sixth for Mercedes with Alonso seventh after a late charge through the field.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was eighth, chased home by Lewis Hamilton who clawed his way up to ninth from 18th on the grid.

The points scorers were rounded out by the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg in 10th.

Norris was delighted to finish second having started from fourth on the grid.

“Surprised, I’m very happy – today it just worked out, I wasn’t expecting it,” said the Englishman.

“It shows the team has done a good job, and it paid off. I made a bet about how far behind the Ferrari we would finish today, I thought 35 seconds and I was very wrong.”

Perez finished on the podium for the fourth time in five rounds this season but had been second until a safety car cost him places.

“Yeah it cost us quite a bit, we lost two places (under the Safety Car) and it was just tough fighting like that. The life of the tyre goes off dramatically,” said the Mexican.

China’s first Formula One driver Zhou Guanyu has been an enormous draw over the weekend as he made his home grand prix debut.

He was allowed to park his car on the grid in front the grandstands after the race and exited the cockpit in floods of tears to an ovation from the capacity crowd.

– © AFP 2024

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