Max Verstappen dominates once again in Chinese Grand Prix victory

McLaren’s Lando Norris produces arguably the drive of the day to finish in second as Sergio Pérez completes the podium

Max Verstappen won the Chinese Grand Prix with another dominant drive, despite having to twice re-establish his lead for Red Bull in a race interrupted by two safety car periods. He beat McLaren’s Lando Norris, who did superbly to take what was an unexpected and hugely-impressive second place, while Sergio Pérez was third for Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton came back to ninth having started in 18th, a far better result than he expected in a car which was not performing. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fourth and fifth respectively.

Verstappen’s win never really looked in doubt in Shanghai, hosting its first race since 2019, but he had to command the race through two restarts, which he did flawlessly to further extend his championship lead over Pérez to 25 points after five meetings.

The standout drive, however, belonged to Norris, who claimed an unlikely second place at a track where McLaren had expected to struggle. The team pulled off a coup putting their driver on a one-stop strategy which the 24-year-old executed with exquisite precision and control. “Great race, I don’t know how but it was fantastic, well deserved,” Norris said.

This is Verstappen’s fourth win from five races this season over which he now exerts a formidable grip. His advantage across this weekend has been almost humbling for the rest of the field. On Saturday he came through from fourth to win the season’s first sprint race by a full 13 seconds.


Then in qualifying he was almost effortlessly three-tenths of a second quicker than Pérez and half a second up on everyone not in a Red Bull. The race was yet another demonstration of his control and dominance.

This is Verstappen’s first win in China and on the current 24-round calendar there is now only one race where he has not taken victory, the Singapore GP, a target doubtless he relishes after the 58th win of his career.

From the off Verstappen comfortably held his lead into turn one and as early as the end of the first lap had shown his cards, shooting off into the distance with 1.6-second lead. By lap two it was up to 2.6-seconds, the world champion already in a race of his own.

It was swiftly six seconds on teammate Pérez, while Norris closed on Fernando Alonso in fourth and clearly quicker, made a superb move to dive past him on lap eight at the hairpin for third place.

At the front Pérez, in the same car as Verstappen, might have been expected to make some headway towards the world champion. The reality was unforgiving, with the Dutchman putting a full six-tenths a lap on his teammate.

Through the first round of stops Verstappen and Pérez pitted on lap 14 while McLaren and Ferrari opted to go long for Norris and Leclerc and make the race a one-stop. They were then given a free stop when the VSC was called on lap 22.

Norris held his place, emerging from the stop still in third behind Pérez, when a full safety car was called. Verstappen and Pérez pitted since the Dutchman’s 20-second lead was gone under the safety car, moving Norris up to second, Leclerc to third with Pérez in fourth in a straight fight to the finish.

At the restart on lap 27 Verstappen held his lead but a second safety car was called immediately when Yuki Tsunoda was hit by Kevin Magnussen.

When racing resumed on lap 32 Verstappen once more opened a gap and Norris also broke away from Leclerc with a three-second lead on lap 36, while Pérez in fourth had 20 laps to try and make it to second.

Verstappen put four seconds on the field by lap 38, while Pérez finally made his move on Leclerc at the hairpin a lap later and set off after Norris. He could make little impression, however, despite having the faster car as the British driver held a five-second gap.

Verstappen duly eased to the flag, the gap an enormous 14 seconds but Norris did brilliantly to nurse his tyres and his lead over Pérez to the end and claim second place, a mighty performance for the driver and for McLaren.

George Russell was in sixth for Mercedes, Fernando Alonso in seventh for Aston Martin, Oscar Piastri in eighth for McLaren and Nico Hülkenberg in 10th for Haas.

- Guardian