After Saturday morning’s Sprint, which saw Verstappen take victory and home hero Zhou Guanyu finish in the top ten, the afternoon saw Qualifying for the race on Sunday. Asian Motorsport reviews all the action from Qualifying and the Chinese Grand Prix.

By Seb Tirado

Qualifying 

Q1 would see Verstappen go fastest with a 1:34.742. Albon would progress through in 13th with a 1:35.384. Tsunoda would be eliminated in 19th with a 1:35.746 after he suffered DRS issues during the session. Despite a strong performance in Sprint Qualifying, Zhou would be eliminated in 16th with a 1:35.505, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton and Logan Sargeant.

Q2 would see a red flag flown with just under 7 minutes to go after Carlos Sainz span coming out of T16 and hit the inside barrier of the pit straight. Verstappen would once again top the timing sheets with a 1:33.794 and Albon would be eliminated in 14th with an 1:35.241 ahead of Pierre Gasly and behind Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll.

Verstappen celebrating in Parc Fermé | Credit: Formula One

Pole Position would ultimately go the way of the reigning World Champion with a 1:33.660, with his teammate Sérgio Perez making it a second consecutive Red Bull front-row lock-out with a 1:33.982.

Chinese Grand Prix

The pack heading into T2 at the start of the Grand Prix | Credit: Formula One

Verstappen would have a rapid run into T1 whilst Alonso would jump Max’s teammate heading into the ever-tightening T2. Tsunoda would make up three places on the first lap, including an overtake on Zhou, to head up to 16th whilst Albon would move up one with a move on Gasly. Zhou would fall down the pack in the opening laps, heading down to 19th by Lap 3.

Zhou and Tsunoda would make their first pit stop at the end of Lap 8, changing onto hards and mediums respectively. The two drivers would have a close call as Tsunoda was released, but RB would avoid any investigation into an unsafe release. Albon would come in a lap later for mediums but would suffer a slow stop. Race leader Verstappen would come in at the end of Lap 13, leading a flawless double stack pit stop for hards.

Zhou’s teammate Bottas would retire from the race with a drivetrain issue on Lap 21, stopping his car in the runoff of T11 and causing a Virtual Safety Car to be deployed a lap later for the marshals to recover the car. The full Safety Car would be deployed on Lap 23 after the marshals struggled to move the car that was stuck in gear. The leading Red Bulls would come in for a set of hards, as would Tsunoda, Albon and Zhou.

Just before the restart at the end of Lap 26, Stroll would run into the back of Ricciardo, giving Tsunoda’s teammate diffuser and floor damage. Tsunoda himself would not avoid drama on the restart either, getting tagged by Magnussen on the exit of T6 and suffering terminal damage that would force him to retire from the race. Albon and Zhou would move up to 13th and 15th on Lap 27 before a second Safety Car would be deployed to recover Tsunoda’s RB.

The race would once again resume at the end of Lap 31. Ricciardo would retire at the end of Lap 33 as a result of his earlier damage, with Albon moving closer to the points in 12th. Zhou would move up to 13th at the end of Lap 38 with a move on Sargeant heading into T14 as Gasly went into the pits. Zhou himself would pit for a set of softs at the end of Lap 40. He would overtake Sargeant again on Lap 49 heading into T14 for 15th and Magnussen for 14th into the same corner five laps later, tagging the Haas driver’s tyre to his front left endplate in the process.

Verstappen would take his first win in China whilst Zhou would celebrate his maiden home Grand Prix | Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool | Kick Sauber

Max Verstappen would take a second dominant win of the weekend, with Sprint pole-sitter Lando Norris in 2nd and Sergio Pérez again finishing 3rd. The Fastest Lap of the race would go to Fernando Alonso in 7th with a 1:37.810.

Zhou may have not achieved points in 14th, but he would nonetheless be proud of his performance. “This weekend has been an amazing experience,” he said. “For years, I dreamt about racing at home and finally I was able to do it. To see the passion and the love from everyone on the stands was something I’ve never experienced before: the in-lap, in particular, was something I won’t ever forget, seeing so many people cheering and shouting your name. I made sure I waved at each grandstand, at every corner with fans.

“The race was tough, especially in the first stint where I didn’t have a lot of grip and I was sliding all over the place, but we did manage to recover well. Finishing the race isn’t what makes me happy – it’s to do so fighting my way through the field, giving everything and leaving nothing behind. We did a lot of overtakes, the car felt good and it was nice to fight my way through. Given the pressure of this weekend, I am happy with the job I have done.”

Tsunoda leading Ricciardo during the Grand Prix | Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Commenting on RB’s double DNF, Tsunoda said that “it’s unfortunate and frustrating how it ended up today. I was happy with how I progressed in the race until my contact with Magnussen. I feel I maximised what I could do but the pace itself hadn’t improved as much as we wanted. It’s a shame that also Daniel had to retire because he had good pace in this race, so as a team, it’s frustrating that neither car finished the race and we couldn’t score points.”

Formula One Drivers’ Championship Top 10

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110
  2. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) – 85
  3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 76
  4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 69
  5. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 58
  6. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) – 38
  7. George Russell (Mercedes) – 33
  8. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – 31
  9. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 19
  10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 9

Formula One Constructors’ Championship Top 5

  1. Red Bull Racing – 195
  2. Scuderia Ferrari – 151
  3. McLaren – 96
  4. Mercedes-AMG – 52
  5. Aston Martin – 40

For Round 6, the Formula One World Championship returns to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida for another Sprint weekend at the Miami Grand Prix.

Header image credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

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