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Norris claims Sprint pole


Ahead of today's shootout the air temperature is 20 degrees C, while the track temperature is 29 degrees. It is overcast with a 60% chance of rain.

As a reminder, the upgrades this weekend see Mercedes with a new halo, while Alpine has a new Floor Body, Floor Fences and Floor Edge and Williams a new Halo.

RB has a new Headrest and Haas new Floor Fences Performance, Floor Edge, Coke/Engine Cover, Rear Corner and Mirror.

Lance Stroll topped the practice timesheets, and if you think that's odd go check out the remainder of the order for it was a session that posed more questions than answers.

With F1 not having raced here since 2019 we were expecting something unusual but as a result of the various strategies, the ever evolving track and various other factors we still; have no idea of the pecking order.

That said, Red Bull has the edge, while McLaren is stronger than expected. Ferrari and Mercedes, on the other hand, have yet to show their hands. Indeed, like Alonso, the German team only ran hards earlier.

The floor has been changed on Perez's car after the Mexican ran over a kerb.

The lights go green but there is no immediate rush to action, which is surprising under the circumstances.

Eventually Albon breaks the deadlock, the Williams driver followed by his teammate, Zhou, Bottas and the Mercedes pair. Among the last out are the McLarens and Ocon.

Russell complains that his tyres are "very cold" before warning that it is spitting.

Zhou posts a 37.936 but this is immediately beaten by his teammate (37.492).

Hamilton goes top with a 37.239, however Leclerc responds with a 36.886.

Piastri goes second (37.216), as Sainz goes fifth and Russell ninth.

Norris goes second, as Verstappen, Perez and Alonso trade fast sectors.

Alonso goes quickest with a 36.883, but Verstappen responds with a 36.456 and Perez a 36.110.

Hulkenberg goes sixth with a 36.924 while Magnussen - the last driver to post a time - goes eleventh with a 37.330.

"Gasly impeded me," complains Sargeant.

On his second flyer Sainz improves to fourth, while Norris goes second with a 36.384, despite a poor second sector.

"The Haas was in the way, should be a penalty," complains Sainz.

Ocon improves from 18th to 16th, but it isn't enough.

Albon can only manage 17th, while teammate Sargeant also fails to make the cut.

Russell can only manage 18th while Russell goes 12th at the death.

Magnussen goes 10th, Piastri fifth and Zhou 15th.

Oh dear, as was the case in practice, there is a fire by the side of the track, this time at Turn 5. Even though it is essentially ended, the session is red-flagged.

Quickest is Perez, ahead of Norris, Verstappen, Leclerc, Piastri, Sainz, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Stroll and Magnussen.

We lose Gasly, Ocon, Albon, Tsunoda and Sargeant, the Japanese driver making no secret of his frustration.

Sainz, Stroll, Tsunoda, Russell, Hamilton are to be investigated for failing to meet the maximum delta time.

The start of the second phase is delayed by a few minutes following that fire, while rain is expected within the next fourteen minutes or so.

Norris heads the queue at the end of the pitlane. Indeed, there is much silliness in the pitlane as drivers seek to push into the queue.

"We believe the rain will hit us at the end of the timed lap," Leclerc is warned.

"Nothing serious for five to ten minutes," Magnussen is advised, while Zhou barges his way in front of Ricciardo as they exit the pitlane.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, the Red Bull pair remain in their garages until the pitlane is clear.

Norris makes full use of his track position, crossing the line at 36.047. However his teammate responds with a 35.853.

Magnussen goes third and Stroll fourth.

Sainz goes third and Alonso fourth, while a 35.711 sees Leclerc go top.

Zhou goes sixth ahead of the Haas pair, while teammate Bottas goes fifth.

Hamilton seventh, Russell ninth and Ricciardo thirteenth.

A 35.606 sees Verstappen go top while his teammate posts a 35.781 to claim third.

The rain arrives and a number of drivers pit, among them the McLarens and Ricciardo, who is ordered to pit.

"It's raining too hard now, sorry," the Australian is told.

Russell attempts to brave it out but finally opts to abort his lap such are the conditions. Toto is not impressed.

"It's raining quite heavy," advises Sainz.

All of which has played into the hands of Zhou, who makes it into SQ2, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Leclerc, Perez, Piastri, Norris, Sainz, Bottas, Alonso, Hamilton and Zhou.

We lose Russell, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Stroll.

This time Piastri head the queue as teammate Norris is advised that the rain will continue at the current intensity.

With the track declared wet all are on Inters.

While Norris has a wobble in Turn 6, Leclerc spins off at Turn 9 and is very lucky not to hit the barriers.

"I think the front wing is broken," he warns.

Alonso has been noted for a pitlane infringement.

On board with Verstappen and the world champion has little control of his car, slithering off track at Turn 6 as Leclerc pits.

Piastri posts a 2:02.598 while Verstappen responds with a 2:02.995.

As Hamilton pits, Perez goes quickest with a 2:00.455.

Bottas goes second, Alonso fifth, Sainz sixth and Zhou seventh, however the Chinese driver and Verstappen have their times deleted for exceeding track limits.

On his next flying lap Verstappen goes off in the final corner, and once again has his time deleted, as Alonso goes quickest with a 2:00.213.

Leclerc goes third but he too has his time deleted and drops to seventh.

A 59.321 sees Hamilton go top, while Piastri goes fifth, only to be demoted when Verstappen goes second with a 2:00.028.

Norris goes quickest with a 57.940 but his time is deleted... it's chaos. Indeed, it's madness as Race Control insists that Norris has had his time reinstated.

"I had very low grip," says Verstappen, "and the engine was misfiring in some places as well."

Thanks to the Weather Gods the true pecking order the true pecking order remains a mystery, but that was certainly entertaining even if a little confusing at times.

Norris will start the Sprint from pole, ahead of Hamilton, Alonso, Verstappen, Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Piastri, Bottas and Zhou.

Russell will start eleventh, ahead of Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Stroll, Gasly, Ocon, Albon, Tsunoda and Sargeant.

"I'm extremely happy first of all," says Norris. "It was tricky, you are always nervous going into a session like this. You just have to risk a lot, push and build tyre temperature and what not.

"I'm happy," he continues, "sad it's not for a proper qualifying, but good enough.

"You only get three laps... the first two I aborted on both so it was all or nothing, a good position for tomorrow."

Check out our Friday gallery from Shanghai here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 20/04/2024 1:20

"@JamesD....Even before the rain the race for pole was looking rather 'spicy'. The rain just took it one step further. As for the fires...well that is another leading question. I do have one question though, and that is, where are all the 'human rights' and DEI protesters this weekend? Strangely absent..."

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2. Posted by Celtic Tiger, 19/04/2024 21:02

"Let's see if Norris can turn this opportunity into a win. The ice rink created by the rain and driveway sealer wasn't surprising but the spontaneous grass fires were. It looks like whatever chemicals they sprayed on the grass to make it greener his highly flammable.

Another brain dead idea when you have sparks shooting off the cars. That level of bad choices being made on a world stage is shocking. "

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3. Posted by JamesD, 19/04/2024 15:59

"@Kenji True but only because it rained and mixed it all up"

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4. Posted by kenji, 19/04/2024 11:49

"That was far better entertainment than an FP2 session....."

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