Formula 1: Verstappen on pole for Chinese Grand Prix, Hamilton to start at 18th position

by IANS |

Shanghai (China), April 20 (IANS) Red Bull's Max Verstappen will start Sunday's Formula One Chinese Grand Prix from pole position after dominating qualifying at the Shanghai International Circuit here on Saturday.

Having won Saturday morning's Sprint race by a convincing margin, Verstappen carried on where he had left off, topping every segment and setting a fastest time of 1:33.660, 0.322s faster than teammate Sergio Perez.

But it was a nightmare session for Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who had finished an encouraging second in the Sprint. The Briton could only qualify 18th after running wide at the Turn 15 hairpin on his fastest lap, and he radioed his team to apologize for his performance, reports Xinhua.

By contrast, there were no such problems for Verstappen, whose pole position was Red Bull's 100th in F1, and also represented the first time a driver has taken pole in the first five Grands Prix of a season since Mika Hakkinen in 1999. "The Sprint race gave us a few more ideas about the car, and I think the car worked even better in qualifying now, so definitely very happy with how it went, the car was really nice to drive," said Verstappen. "That final lap in Q3 felt really decent. Also very happy to drive here in the dry, the conditions were pretty good, and it was a lot of fun."

Behind the Red Bulls, Fernando Alonso was an impressive third for Aston Martin, with the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri ending the session fourth and fifth. Charles Leclerc took sixth for Ferrari, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, who was lucky to be able to finish the hour after having spun at the final corner and clouted the outer wall during Q2.

George Russell took eighth for Mercedes, with Nico Hulkenberg ninth in his Haas, and Valtteri Bottas setting Sauber's best qualifying position of the season so far with tenth. Starting 11th will be Alonso's teammate Lance Stroll, ahead of RB's Daniel Ricciardo on a better day for the Australian. Esteban Ocon starts 13th in the first of the Alpines, with Williams' Alex Albon ahead of Ocon's teammate Pierre Gasly.

Further down the field, Bottas' teammate and local hero Zhou Guanyu will start his home Grand Prix from 16th after failing to make it out of Q1, ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen. Behind a disappointed Hamilton, Ricciardo's teammate Yuki Tsunoda and the second Williams of Logan Sargeant ended the session in 19th and 20th places respectively.

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