Verstappen regains favoritism with victory in the sprint in China

SHANGHAI-. The pilot of Red Bull Max Verstappen completed a Formula One double by taking pole on Saturday for the Chinese Grand Prix hours after he won the first Sprint race of the season.

His teammate Sergio Pérez will start alongside Verstappen on Sunday on the front row and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lando Norris will be on the second. Verstappen's best lap was one minute and 33.660 seconds and he was 0.322 seconds faster than the Mexican.

The three-time defending champion is uncatchable – as the best and fastest driver. The Dutchman has won 22 of 26 awards and three of four this season. Only a brake failure in Melbourne, Australia prevented him from sweeping all races.

It seems that on Sunday he will continue his dominance.

“If the car is only half as good as in the sprint then I think we will be back,†Verstappen admitted.

This season he has started from first position in every race and this will be his 37th first place on the grid – Red Bull's 100th as a team – as he attempts to achieve his 58th victory.

“Of course it is an incredible achievement for the entire team,†admitted Verstappen. “For me it has been a great start to the year.†.

Alonso, champion in 2005 and 2006, is still going strong. He turns 43 this summer, he signed a contract extension with Aston Martin and remains one of the fastest drivers in F1.

“These types of laps and moments are encouraging for the future,†commented the Spaniard and said that on race day he will surely finish “seventh, eighth or ninth†—but it doesn't matter.

“We are qualifying extremely well and that is what matters�

Qualifying took place under dry conditions and similar weather is expected on Sunday.

Verstappen leads the standings with 85 points, 15 ahead of Perez and 21 ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

The track, which is located 40 kilometers northwest of Shanghai, has been a mystery to the teams. This is the first Chinese GP in five years after it was removed from the calendar due to COVID-19.

Zhou Guanyu, the only Chinese driver, was slow in qualifying and will start 16th for Sauber.