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Other SportsChinese Grand Prix 2024: Norris beats Hamilton to P1 in 'wild' sprint...

Chinese Grand Prix 2024: Norris beats Hamilton to P1 in ‘wild’ sprint qualifying session

Lando Norris beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position in sprint qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday, having his fastest lap reinstated at the end of a dramatic, rain-affected session.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton had appeared to take pole for Saturday’s sprint race when Norris’ time of 1:57.940 was deleted for exceeding track limits.

However, stewards reinstated his lap in the closing moments of a wet session in Shanghai, lifting him back above Hamilton to ensure he will lead Saturday’s 19-lap sprint from the front.

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Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was third while Max Verstappen finished fourth, the rain derailing Red Bull’s efforts after the reigning champion was fastest in dry conditions at the start of the session.

Speaking after the session, Norris admitted he was surprised to find himself at the top of the timesheets, saying: “It was wild. I am extremely happy, big thanks to the team. It was tricky.

“I was quite happy with how we were in the dry, I was nervous. I was quick, I kept catching the Ferrari so had to keep backing off. I got a good final lap.

“I’m sad it is not for a proper qualifying but it’s good enough. It was good fun, it gets your heart going. It’s a nice surprise and a good position for tomorrow.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he had no issues with Norris’ lap being reinstated, but he was frustrated to see George Russell eliminated in SQ2, sitting in 11th.

“Our car generating grip is not an easy task. We failed in SQ1 and SQ2 but got it right in SQ3,” Wolff said. “The driving is the most important thing in the wet but it’s also about tyre preparation.

“We did the right thing on the final run, the tyres were in the sweet spot, combined with the driving.”

Meanwhile, Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu made the top 10 on his first outing in his home country, with COVID-19 restrictions seeing the last four editions of the Chinese Grand Prix cancelled.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Guanyu said of his dream home debut: “I am just happy with the first day and it was great to have everyone here.

“The pressure before the weekend was so extreme, like I felt when I made my debut. Everyone is here and that is when you want to do well. We will give everything.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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