Verstappen Overcomes Slow Start Struggles And Surges To Sprint Win In China

Saturday, 20 April 2024 at 05:36
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Max Verstappen seemed to be struggling early on during the Sprint race at the Shanghai International Circuit, but he still turned it into a win.
The Dutch driver won every Grand Prix that he finished in the 2024 F1 season, but this was new for Verstappen, as for the first time he wasn't starting from the pole position, and also, he didn't have a full race distance to make his way through the pack.
After the Sprint Shootout, the three-time World Champion admitted that finishing fourth in the Sprint Shootout was 'deserved', given he couldn't navigate his car in the tricky wet conditions.
However, with the Sprint race being driven in dry conditions, Red Bull immediately gained an advantage over rivals, even though it seemed that both Red Bull drivers struggled early on.
Verstappen came on the radio, complaining about his battery deployment to his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, who advised him to use 'Mode 8.'
Slowly but surely, Verstappen started chipping away from the lead that Fernando Alonso in second place had ahead of him, and by the end of Lap 7, he was already in the DRS of the Aston Martin driver, overtaking him at the end of the longest straight in China.
After that, his focus turned to Lewis Hamilton, who was leading the Sprint in his Mercedes, but the British driver felt the pressure already in Lap 8, one lap after Verstappen overtook Alonso, locking up into Turn 14.
That lost him over a second of his lead, immediately bringing Verstappen to his DRS, which the 26-year-old driver used in the next lap, overtaking his rival from the 2021 season and never looking back to win the Sprint race.
Until Lap 16, it seemed that with Verstappen leading ahead of Hamilton, Alonso would finish third, but with Carlos Sainz in Ferrari catching up, the fight for the last place on the podium started.
Sainz was able to overtake Alonso momentarily, but as the two fought and touched, Sergio Perez used it to his advantage, overtaking both in one corner to join his teammate on the podium.
Alonso picked up a puncture during the fight, as Sainz and his teammate, Charles Leclerc, continued to fight, with the Monegasque driver being more successful this time around to finish in fourth.
Still, all of that happened far from the race leader, Verstappen, who won the race by over 13 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who had a healthy two-second lead ahead of third Perez.