Red Bull and McLaren break an astonishing 13-year record at the Chinese Grand Prix

summary

  • Historic podium shake-up at 2024 Chinese Grand Prix with absence of Ferrari and Mercedes drivers.
  • Max Verstappen’s dominance echoed Mika Hakkinen’s 1999 record, while Lando Norris challenged with tactical prowess.

The 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, which marks a much-anticipated return to Shanghai for Formula 1 after a five-year hiatus, witnessed a historic podium finish. For the first time since 2011, neither Ferrari nor Mercedes drivers made it past the top three stages. Interestingly, both the 2011 and 2024 podiums mirrored each other, with two Red Bull teammates alongside a McLaren driver.

Max Verstappen was the clear winner this year, crushing the race with ease. The driver won four races and took his fifth pole position, a record not seen since Mika Häkkinen did the same for McLaren in 1999. During the first pit stop, Lando Norris, who was on roll for McLaren, demonstrated the ability and tactical sk**ls of the Woking crew by beating the Dutchman.

The Chinese Grand Prix broke podium tradition with no Ferrari or Mercedes drivers

The 2011 Chinese Grand Prix, which saw similar podium results, was a different story. Then, it was Lewis Hamilton, driving for McLaren, who took the checkered flag. Behind him were Red Bull team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Marc Webber, showing the early rise of the Austrian team to become a major force in Formula 1.

Fast forward to 2024, serving as testament to F1’s ever-evolving landscape. While Ferrari and Mercedes have historically been the leaders, Verstappen’s exceptional driving ability has seen Red Bull rise to the top. The championship race took on a more dramatic aspect with Norris leading McLaren back into the fray.

The midfield has also heated up. Fernando Alonso hinted at potential future problems for the top three teams with his competitive performance in his Aston Martin, which saw him finish a solid seventh. Competition for spots across the racing order has intensified as teams such as Alpine, Haas and Stake F1 move up.

Ferrari’s chances are hampered by mysterious hard tire speed loss

The recent race in Shanghai saw a surprising turn of events. The Scuderia team, unfortunately, fell short. McLaren’s Briton emerged as Red Bull’s closest challenger, ahead of Sergio Perez. Norris’ strategy benefited from a virtual safety car, which allowed him to pit free with Charles Leclerc, who was attempting a risky one-stop strategy.

According to team leader Fred Va*seur, “It’s a matter of tithes or half-tithes [against McLaren each race]. For example, in Melbourne we finished 60 laps eight seconds ahead and we were one-tenth faster. And then today we are one tenth slower. It’s more about making the best of what we have.”

Initially, Monegasque was hoping to pa*s Norris after the restart because the hard tires were not as effective as the mediums. Leclerc struggled as a result and eventually fell back, allowing Perez to pa*s him. Their cause for concern was their lack of qualifying pace. They prioritized the race setup, sacrificing qualifying performance for better tire wear.

Leclerc finally pa*sed Russell after a thrilling maneuver but it was too late to challenge for the podium. Carlos Sainz also fell behind Russell and was on a two-stop strategy. Following Sainz’s earlier incidents with Alonso, the Ferrari drivers collided on the exit of the hairpin curve during the sprint race.

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