Chinese Grand Prix 2024: Max Verstappen 18th on pole with Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton said he made “huge” set-up changes to his Mercedes after finishing second to Verstappen in the sprint race.

“I'll give it my best shot – 18th is pretty bad,” Hamilton said. “When I was making set-up changes, I was like: 'It can't get any worse, surely.' It did!”

Red Bull looked the world of their own throughout the day, despite Perez coming close to a knockout at the end of the first session stuck in traffic.

Surprisingly, Alonso's Aston Martin has not generally looked competitive with Ferrari or McLaren this season, but third was an impressive finish for the Spanish veteran.

Alonso ran third for most of the sprint before damage from a collision with Sainz forced his retirement, but he made amends with a strong performance in qualifying for the Grand Prix.

Alonso said: “I was for a while in turns one and two, I was thinking whether I should abort or not, but we kept going and I set a good lap time. The car improved from this morning and we made some changes.”

In the second qualifying round Sainz crashed at the end of his first lap, but managed to get the Ferrari back to the pits minus its front wing, where the Ferrari discovered it was undamaged.

He and Leclerc were Red Bull's closest rivals in the second session, although they were 0.3 seconds off the pace, but they fell in the final session, allowing Alonso and McLaren to advance.

Behind Russell, Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg and Saab's Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10.

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At RB, Daniel Ricciardo produced his best performance of the season for 12th in the race, with the team replacing his chassis in an attempt to address the Australian's struggles so far this season.

Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was a mystery in 19th, unable to explain his sudden lack of pace.

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