Lando Norris Takes Pole In Chaotic Shanghai Sprint Qualifying

Lando Norris Takes Pole In Chaotic Shanghai Sprint Qualifying
Lando Norris Takes Pole In Chaotic Shanghai Sprint Qualifying

In the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint qualifying, Lando Norris of McLaren claimed pole position after his previously disqualified lap time of 1:57.940 was restored, putting the Brit ahead of Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin in a session impacted by wet conditions at Shanghai International Circuit.

As the final part of qualifying (SQ3) concluded amidst rain, Hamilton had initially secured the provisional pole with a lap of 1:59.321. Norris had experienced an off-track moment on his preceding lap, leading to the initial disqualification of his time. However, upon review, his time was reinstated, handing him pole position for Saturday’s Sprint Race.

“It was tricky! You are always nervous going into a session like this and even before qualifying when you know it is going to rain. The last lap was all or nothing,” said Norris.

SQ1 started with light rain that kept the drivers in their garages, before several ventured out on Medium tires. Hamilton was quick to set the fastest time, but was soon beaten by Charles Leclerc of Ferrari. The McLaren drivers, Norris and Oscar Piastri, were also quick, but Max Verstappen, the championship front-runner, soon bested them all with a faster lap. His teammate Sergio Pérez then took the lead, only for Norris to later slot in between the Red Bulls.

The session saw Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, along with Williams’ Alex Albon, fail to advance, while a small off-track fire at Turn 5 caused a brief interruption similar to an earlier incident in FP1.

As teams anticipated rain for SQ2, a lineup of cars formed at the pit exit. Norris posted the first significant time in dry conditions, but Piastri and then Leclerc soon surpassed him, with Verstappen reclaiming the top spot. The rain began with two minutes left in the session, locking out several drivers from advancing, including Mercedes’ George Russell and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, but local favorite Zhou Guanyu made it through to the delight of the home crowd.

“It feels great to be in SQ3. The laps kept coming together, in SQ1 through SQ2: there was a lot of potential in the car but in the end, in the rain in SQ3, we only had one lap to get the best possible outcome. I was just trying to get a lap onboard, even though everyone was struggling so much with the grip. I’m happy with the day, with two cars in SQ3, and the fans have been sensational: I can’t wait for the rest of the weekend. Points tomorrow will only be for the top eight, but we’re taking this step by step: we put two cars in the top ten today, and we will give everything tomorrow. Everything can still happen; it’ll be a sprint from the lights to the finish. The guys we are fighting for the points will be strong, but we stand with a chance and we’re ready to go for it,” said Zhou.

With the rain intensifying before SQ3, drivers switched to Intermediate tires. Norris experienced a slide on his out lap, and Leclerc also spun, sustaining front wing damage. Piastri initially led the timings, followed by Pérez and then Alonso, until Hamilton took over the lead. Norris’s impressive lap was briefly nullified due to a suspected track limits violation, but with no infraction found, his time was reinstated, positioning him at the front for the Sprint, ahead of Hamilton, Alonso, Verstappen, and the rest of the top ten contenders.

2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying Results

PositionDriverTeamTimeGap to 1stGap to Previous
1Lando NorrisMcLaren/Mercedes1:57.940
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:59.201+1.261+1.261
3Fernando AlonsoAston Martin/Mercedes1:59.915+1.975+0.714
4Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda RBPT2:00.028+2.088+0.113
5Carlos SainzFerrari2:00.214+2.274+0.186
6Sergio PérezRed Bull/Honda RBPT2:00.375+2.435+0.161
7Charles LeclercFerrari2:00.566+2.626+0.191
8Oscar PiastriMcLaren/Mercedes2:00.990+3.050+0.424
9Valtteri BottasSauber/Ferrari2:01.044+3.104+0.054
10Zhou GuanyuSauber/Ferrari2:03.537+5.597+2.493
11George RussellMercedes1:36.345-21.595-18.310
12Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1:36.473-21.467+0.128
13Nico HülkenbergHaas/Ferrari1:36.478-21.462+0.005
14Daniel RicciardoRB/Honda RBPT1:36.553-21.387+0.075
15Lance StrollAston Martin/Mercedes1:36.677-21.263+0.124
16Pierre GaslyAlpine/Renault1:37.632-20.308+1.045
17Esteban OconAlpine/Renault1:37.720-20.220+0.088
18Alexander AlbonWilliams/Mercedes1:37.812-20.128+0.092
19Yuki TsunodaRB/Honda RBPT1:37.892-20.048+0.080
20Logan SargeantWilliams/Mercedes1:37.923-20.017+0.031

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