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Verstappen only fourth in sprint qualification

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Verstappen only fourth in sprint qualification

In the rain in Shanghai, Max Verstappen clearly missed the best starting position for the Formula 1 sprint that he didn’t like. The three-time world champion had to settle for fourth place on a slippery track on Friday. Lando Norris from McLaren was fastest under difficult conditions during the comeback of the premier motorsport class in China.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton took second place in a Mercedes, while two-time champion Fernando Alonso came third. The sprint race takes place on Saturday (5 a.m. in the FAZ live ticker for Formula 1 and on Sky) and covers 100 kilometers.

As if the grip – i.e. the traction – on the track wasn’t already low after the long forced break from Formula 1 and only one hour of training, it started to rain minimally with the first knockout of the weekend. The pilots still stayed on their dry tires.

As in the one-hour training session before, Verstappen only managed third place in the first twelve minutes. Teammate Sergio Pérez and Norris were faster. Local hero Guanyu Zhou also escaped into the second section with a lead of 88 thousandths of a second.

However, this began with a slight delay after, as in the only free practice session, a piece of grass burned. According to the International Automobile Federation, initial video analyzes showed that sparks from the cars caused the small fires.

Even before the heavy rain began, the 26-year-old Dutchman Verstappen set the fastest lap. George Russell, on the other hand, was eliminated in the Mercedes, and Nico Hülkenberg also retired in the Haas. Zhou finished tenth to the cheers of the Chinese fans. On the now wet asphalt, Charles Leclerc slipped off the track in the crucial section, and Verstappen also had problems and missed first place.

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The premier class of motorsport is back at the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time since 2019. After the race premiere in China in 2004, the corona pandemic and the strict requirements of the Chinese government’s zero-Covid strategy prevented the starts in previous years.

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