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Formula 1: Verstappen maximum: victory in the sprint and pole position

Formula 1: Verstappen maximum: victory in the sprint and pole position

Max Verstappen wins in Shanghai on Saturday. He also gives his team a special number. Nico Hülkenberg is also strong in qualifying, although he made a mistake.

Max Verstappen completed the double shift in Shanghai with maximum results and positioned himself for his debut victory in the giant empire. The 26-year-old Dutchman won the first sprint race of the season with a lead of over 13 seconds after a confident mini comeback. Verstappen then also grabbed first place on the grid for the first Chinese Grand Prix this Sunday (9 a.m. CEST/Sky) after a five-year break from racing due to corona.

He also gave his employer the 100th pole in Formula 1. Before he jumped into the car, team boss Christian Horner told him that the anniversary was possible. “‘Ok, I’ll try,’ I said,” explained Verstappen and also thanked Sebastian Vettel for his contribution. The German former Formula 1 driver took 44 of his 57 poles during his years at Red Bull.

After finishing third behind Verstappen in the sprint, teammate Sergio Pérez took second place in qualifying in Shanghai. The 42-year-old two-time champion Fernando Alonso came third in his Aston Martin, who had already competed at the premier class premiere in China in 2004. But a few others also wrote their China stories on Saturday:

Hamilton between joy and sorrow

It was his first leading laps this year after a top start in the sprint race from second place on the grid. In the end, only Verstappen is faster over the 100 kilometers. Record champion Hamilton missed his first victory in Formula 1 since the Grand Prix success on December 5, 2021 behind the current world champion. But the 39-year-old Brit’s enthusiasm was palpable: “This is the best result I’ve had in a long time.” And the early duel with sprint pole sitter Lando Norris, which he won, really woke up the winning driver in Hamilton: “The fight in turn one reminded me why I love what I do.”

Disillusionment followed around three hours later: Hamilton was eliminated in the first knockout phase of the qualification. 18th place for the Mercedes superstar. If he had any hopes of a podium finish at the first Grand Prix in China since 2019 – then won by Hamilton – they were gone. “Sorry, boys,” he radioed guiltily to the pits after a mistake on the decisive lap. “We have made big changes since qualifying,” he explained: “I had big problems.” Looking at the race, he said with a sarcastic laugh: “It can’t actually get any worse.”

Sainz between apology and impact

He is the top person at the moment, Carlos Sainz. He will have to leave Ferrari after the season if Hamilton moves from Mercedes to Scuderia. He is also considered a candidate for the seat at Mercedes, which will then become vacant. In the sprint, Sainz had a thrilling duel with his teammate. This was a little over the limit, said colleague Charles Leclerc afterwards.

Sainz, in turn, promptly apologized to everyone who had been affected by his overly courageous driving style. She came fifth in the sprint, but was threatened with elimination in qualifying after an impact. The mechanics got the car back in time with a new front wing, so that Sainz made it into the final round, where he didn’t get past seventh place behind Leclerc.

Penalties don’t stop Alonso

Of course he couldn’t understand this punishment. For a maneuver in the sprint race against compatriot Sainz, Alonso was given a ten-second penalty and three penalty points. The extra time didn’t matter, however, as he had to drive into the pits early shortly before the end after the attacks with a flat tire.

By then, the 2005 and 2006 champion had shown what he was still capable of. From third place on the grid, he was in second place behind Hamilton for a while in the short race. In qualifying he could only be beaten by the superior Red Bull duo. Team boss Mike Krack then summarized the qualities of the exceptional driver, who had extended his contract with Aston Martin before the China race until at least the end of 2026: “Fernando often drives around problems and he can do that. Not everyone can do that. “

Hülkenberg can qualify

Things didn’t go well for Hülkenberg in the first shift. Or as the 36-year-old native of the Rhineland put it himself: “The sprint was right for the feet. That didn’t work at all.” Second to last place in the Haas. “The good news is: There is no more parc ferme. We can change the car. It’s like a fresh weekend with two new sessions,” he said on the pay channel Sky.

And the setup of the car for the knockout was right: Hülkenberg made it into the top ten and raced to a strong ninth place. However, he then had to report to the race stewards because he had overtaken aggressively on the right in the pit lane when there was a traffic jam.

Source: Stern

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