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Piastri chases podium spot after Ricciardo’s double win on circuit famous for overtaking – F1 LIVE

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Max Verstappen took a huge early lead in the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso jumping into second place.

Alonso passed Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in the opening corners while McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were fourth and fifth.

Verstappen had a lead of 1.8 seconds and was out of DRS range after just one lap and after Perez took second place, the two Bulls shot away.

Piastri struggled towards the end of his spell as Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc emerged as the main contenders for third.

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Max Verstappen continued his dominant start to the season in emphatic style by romping to sprint victory and then claiming pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix – an “incredible” 100th for his Red Bull team.

It was an ominous display from Verstappen, who looks on course to win a fourth Grand Prix of five on Sunday as he moves towards a fourth consecutive world title.

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The Red Bull driver was 0.322 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez as Red Bull locked up the front row, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished third on Formula 1’s return to China after a five-year absence.

Verstappen clocked a fastest lap of 1 minute and 33.660 seconds to record the team milestone and his first pole at the Shanghai International Circuit.

“Before I jumped in the car (Red Bull chief Christian) Horner told me that if you take pole today it could be number 100 for the team, so I thought: ‘OK, that’s nice, I’ll let’s try it’,” said Verstappen.

“That is of course an incredible achievement for the entire team.”

Verstappen won the 19-lap sprint in the morning by as much as 13 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, as the Dutchman set a milestone for Sunday’s 56-lap race.

“The car worked even better in qualifying,” said Verstappen. “That last lap felt pretty decent and I was really happy to be here on dry land, it was a lot of fun.

“If the car is half as good tomorrow as it was in the sprint, we will be fine.”

McLaren's Australian driver Oscar Piastri.  Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP
McLaren’s Australian driver Oscar Piastri. Photo by GREG BAKER / AFPSource: AFP

Lando Norris will start on the second row alongside Alonso in his McLaren for the first Grand Prix to be held in China since 2019 due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Oscar Piastri was fifth in the second McLaren, ahead of Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, while George Russell’s Mercedes was eighth.

Perez was relieved to be in the front row.

“Very intense, I was almost eliminated in Q1,” said the Mexican.

“In the last run the track got a lot better and I was able to set a good lap.”

Leclerc said he hoped Ferrari could be stronger on Sunday.

“We jeopardized our qualifying by giving priority to tomorrow’s race and had a slightly more difficult time than we expected,” said Leclerc.

“Our race pace is strong and it will take a long time, with tire degradation playing a big role here.”

Daniel Ricciardo starts twelfth after beating teammate Yuki Tsunoda for the second time this weekend.

The Chinese Grand Prix will start at 5pm AEST.

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