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SHANGHAI: Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 21, 2024. – AFP
SHANGHAI: Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai on April 21, 2024. – AFP
Verstappen wins Chinese Grand Prix

SHANGHAI: Max Verstappen rounded off a dominant weekend with victory in the first Chinese Grand Prix for five years on Sunday to extend his world championship lead, a day after romping to sprint victory. The three-time world champion was again in a league of his own as Formula One returned to the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time since 2019. He finished 13.7 seconds ahead of Lando Norris with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez third, a further six seconds back.

It looked odds-on that Red Bull would repeat their one-two in Japan a fortnight ago until two safety cars in quick succession mid-race. After multiple pit stops Perez emerged behind behind McLaren’s Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen was only denied a maximum 34 points for the weekend when Fernando Alonso pipped him to the fastest lap after a late tyre change. It was another masterful display from Verstappen, who was winning his fourth grand prix out of five in 2024 and the 58th of his career as he marches towards a fourth consecutive world title. “It felt amazing. The whole weekend we were incredibly quick,” said Verstappen. “We survived the restarts well and the car was basically on rails and I could do whatever I wanted with it.” He increased his lead over Perez at the top of the world championship to 25 points, with Red Bull now 44 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors’ fight.

“Those kind of weekends are amazing to feel and to achieve what we did this weekend is fantastic,” added Verstappen, who won for the first time in China. Norris was delighted to finish second, his best result in 2024, having started from fourth on the grid. “Things came alive today. I don’t know why, it was not the race I was expecting, but just got comfortable,” said the Englishman. The consistent Perez finished on the podium for the fourth time in five rounds this season but said the safety car denied him a place. — AFP

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