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Chinese GP Sprint Qualifying: Lando Norris beats Lewis Hamilton to pole in dramatic wet finale

Lando Norris dramatically beat Lewis Hamilton to pole in Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying; Fernando Alonso third ahead of Max Verstappen; watch Saturday's Sprint at 4am with Qualifying following at 8am and the Chinese GP itself at 8am on Sunday - live on Sky Sports F1

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Sprint Qualifying highlights of the Chinese Grand Prix from the Shanghai International Circuit

Lando Norris beat Lewis Hamilton to Sprint pole at the Chinese Grand Prix after dramatically having his fastest lap reinstated at the end of a wet session.

Hamilton appeared to have claimed pole when Norris had his final flying lap deleted for exceeding track limits, but the stewards then reinstated the lap in the closing moments to give the McLaren driver the second Sprint pole of his career.

Fernando Alonso took third for Aston Martin, while world championship leader Max Verstappen was fourth having also lost a lap during the final part of the session for running off track.

With Verstappen's Red Bull appearing to be the fastest car in dry conditions at the start of the session, Saturday's 19-lap Sprint race, live on Sky Sports at 4am, promises to be an entertaining contest as the Dutchman attempts to get past the trio ahead of him.

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Karun Chandhok explains the reason why Lando Norris' lap time in Sprint Qualifying was reinstated at the Chinese GP, giving him pole

Carlos Sainz was sixth ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, with the Spaniard once more outperforming his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who was fortunate to claim eighth after avoiding significant damage when spinning into the barrier in SQ3.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri was unable to match Norris' pace as he took eighth, while there was a feelgood story as Zhou Guanyu rounded out the top 10 at his first home grand prix, behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

George Russell was a surprise casualty in SQ2 as Mercedes once more struggled in dry conditions, with the Brit to start 11th having only narrowly avoided being knocked out in the first part of the session.

Also See:

Chinese GP Sprint Qualifying: Top 10

1) Lando Norris, McLaren

2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

3) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull

7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

8) Oscar Piastri, McLaren

9) Valtteri Bottas, Sauber

10) Zhou Guanyu, Sauber

China delivers drama on F1 return

While unpredictability was expected in Shanghai as Formula 1 returned to China for the first time since 2019, few could have envisaged the drama that ensued during the first competitive session of the weekend.

Following a reshuffle of the Sprint format, the shortened qualifying session was taking place on a Friday for the first time, with the pecking order largely a mystery after the sole 60-minute practice session saw teams run a variety of programmes.

The chances of an upset, at least beyond Perez challenging Verstappen, seemed small when the Red Bulls moved comfortably clear in SQ1.

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A second grass fire caused a delay to the Sprint Qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix

There was a pause before the start of SQ2 as grass on the side of the track, as it had done during practice, caught fire from the sparks being produced by the cars.

The marshals put the blaze out and the session was able to resume after a brief delay, while further natural fire prevention was on the way.

After the opening runs of SQ2, which saw Russell drop outside of the top 10, rain began to fall and effectively curtailed the session three minutes early with the track too wet for any driver to improve.

The rain continued to fall as the drivers prepared for the eight-minute finale, by which point intermediate tyres were necessary.

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Ever seen a slower race than this? Drivers start competing in the pit lane as the drivers set out on track for Sprint Q2 in the Chinese Grand Prix

The treacherous nature of the conditions quickly became clear as Verstappen, so secure in the wet on his way to winning a third successive drivers' title last season, ran off track on his first attempt at a flying lap.

There was more extreme trouble for Leclerc as the Monegasque spun on his way out of Turn 8 towards a light tap with the barrier, after which he did well to keep his car moving.

The times began to drop as the drivers gradually got their tyres up to temperature, while Hamilton pitted for another set of intermediates with different pressure levels having initially struggled.

Perez was the first to find his groove as the Mexican went two seconds clear with three minutes remaining but was then narrowly displaced by Alonso.

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An intense end to Sprint Qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix saw Lando Norris snatch pole position from Lewis Hamilton

As the clock was about to hit zero, Hamilton went comfortably clear, only for Norris to improve the leading effort by 1.381s.

Hamilton was quickly restored to the top of the timesheet as Norris had his final two lap times deleted having exceeded track limits at the final corner on the first of the two efforts, a violation that usually automatically results in the following lap being discounted due to a theoretical advantage being gained.

However, just as the celebrations looked set to begin in the Mercedes garage, the stewards reinstated Norris' time, having appeared to consider that the Brit lost time rather than gained an advantage from running wide.

"I saw on the board that I wasn't at the top but I saw when I went over the line on the TV that I was," Norris told Sky Sports F1. "So I got a little bit nervous but I didn't do anything wrong, so it should be fine."

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McLaren's Lando Norris said he was a little nervous seeing that his lap was reinstated yet happy with the pole position result he achieved

The decision gave Norris a second successive F1 Sprint pole, having also started from the front in Brazil in the final Sprint weekend of last season. The 24-year-old will be seeking a first Sprint race - or Grand Prix - victory on Saturday.

The new format for 2024 will see the Sprint take place first thing on Saturday, before the cars are released from parc ferme, allowing teams to make setup changes, ahead of grand prix qualifying, live on Sky Sports at 8am.

Verstappen takes a 13-point world championship lead over Perez into the Sprint, for which the winner receives eight points, with each of the top eight finishers rewarded by a descending scoring system.

Chinese GP Sprint Qualifying Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Lando Norris McLaren 1:57.940
2) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1.261
3) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +1.975
4) Max Verstappen Red Bull +2.088
5) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +2.274
6) Sergio Perez* Red Bull +2.435
7) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +2.626
8) Oscar Piasti McLaren +3.050
9) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +3.104
10) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +5.597
Knocked out in SQ2
11) George Russell Mercedes 1:36.345
12) Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.473
13) Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:36.478
14) Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:36.553
15) Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:36.677
Knocked out in SQ1
16) Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:37.632
17) Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:37.720
18) Alex Albon Williams 1:37.812
19) Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:37.892
20) Logan Sargeant Williams 1:37.923

Sky Sports F1's live Chinese GP schedule

China schedule

Saturday April 20
3.30am: Chinese GP Sprint (race starts at 4am)*
7am: Chinese GP Qualifying build-up*
8am: Chinese GP Qualifying*
10am: Ted's Qualifying Notebook*

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Sunday April 21
7am: Grand Prix Sunday: Chinese GP build-up*
10am: Chequered Flag: Chinese GP reaction*
11am: Ted's Notebook*

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

You can watch every session of the Chinese Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 and steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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