F1: Max Verstappen wins the Chinese Grand Prix

F1: Max Verstappen wins the Chinese Grand Prix

Déjà quatre victoires en cinq Grand Prix cette année pour le Néerlandais Max Verstappen. MAXPPP – ANDRES MARTINEZ CASARES

Encore et toujours lui. Le leader du championnat du monde de Formule 1, Max Verstappen, a tranquillement remporté le Grand Prix de Chine dimanche, pour la première course de F1 dans le pays depuis 2019.

Starting on pole in front of full and heated stands for this return to China after five years of absence due to Covid-19, the Dutchman won his 58th in Shanghai GP victory and the fourth of the season in five races (out of 24). "The sensations were incredible […], the car was on rails, I could do whatever I wanted", s&amp ;rsquo;the three-time reigning world champion, who had never won in China, is delighted.

Already the day before, the insatiable "Mad Max" won the first of six sprint races planned this season. Behind him, the McLaren of Lando Norris, which was not expected to perform as well this weekend, finished second, ahead of the other Red Bull of Mexican Sergio Pérez. "I wasn't expecting it", reacted Norris, who concluded a good weekend after taking pole in the sprint race. "I’was surprised by a lot of things ; Ferrari's lack of pace, our good pace, us in comparison with Red Bull…". His Australian teammate Oscar Piastri finished 8th.

The Ferraris, which were expected to be at the forefront in China, complete the Top 5 – the Monegasque Charles Leclerc having beaten the Spaniard Carlos Sainz. "It’is the best that we could do", recognized Leclerc, 6th on the grid.

Safety cars

For the fifth meeting of the season, the horizon was still clear for "Mad Max" on this racing Sunday. He was never worried. Not even by the intervention of the safety car shortly before halfway, after an engine problem on the Sauber of Finn Valtteri Bottas.

When the race restarted, new incidents: the Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) collided with the rear of the Racing Bulls of the Australian Daniel Ricciardo when, at the same time, the ;other Racing Bulls of the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda was hit by the Haas of the Dane Kevin Magnussen, which required another neutralization.

Once the setbacks were over and the safety car returned to the garage, Verstappen took off again and won with more than 13 seconds ahead of Norris. The unstoppable Batavian concluded an almost perfect weekend from an accounting point of view, since only the point for the best lap in the race escaped him. This went to double world champion Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), 7th in the GP.

In the drivers' championship, Verstappen now has a lead of 25 points over his runner-up Pérez.

Mercedes "not fast enough"

Acclaimed by his home crowd all weekend, Zhou Guanyu finished 14th at the wheel of his Sauber. Very emotional upon arrival, the Shanghai native, arriving in the elite in 2022, is the first Chinese in history to compete in Formula 1 in China.

The Briton Lewis Hamilton, who was also popular with the public at each of his appearances, crossed the line 9th after starting from a very distant 18th place under the eyes of the crowd. ;former Chinese basketball star Yao Ming. The seven-time world champion, in trouble at the start of the race at the wheel of his Mercedes, still holds the record for F1 victories in Shanghai (six).

"The car we have is not fast enough at the moment", has admitted Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, whose second driver George Russell finished 6th. "But the field behind Red Bull is tight, and small details can make a big difference. We have developments to make in the upcoming races which we hope will improve the car".

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