The first Sprint Qualifying of the season in China turned into a lottery after the final phase to decide the top ten on the grid at the Shanghai International Circuit was hit by heavy rain. Grip was particularly low as Carlos Sainz set the fifth fastest time and Charles Leclerc secured seventh place on the grid for tomorrow’s Sprint Race that starts at 11.00 local time (5 CEST).

Decisive part. Having comfortably made the cut through the first two parts of qualifying on a dry track, running Medium tyres, as required by the regulations, Carlos and Charles then had to switch to Intermediate tyres for the first time this season. For the short 8 minutes of Q3, the SF-24s were therefore fuelled to run four laps. However, Charles spun off on his preparation lap, nudging the barriers at turn 8. He pitted to change tyres and the front wing. On his best run, Carlos stopped the clocks in 2’00”214, good enough for fifth, while Charles posted a 2’00”566, which puts him seventh on the grid.

Race and then qualifying. The new Sprint weekend format means that following tomorrow morning’s race – 19 laps, 103.379 km – the parc ferme conditions are suspended so that teams can work on the cars prior to the afternoon qualifying at 15.00 local (09.00 CEST) to define the grid for the real Chinese Grand Prix which starts at the same time on Sunday.

Carlos Sainz #55
It was a tough mixed session. We made it through SQ1 and SQ2 without major issues, but then in SQ3, with the rain and the Intermediate tyres, we struggled quite a lot with the rear tyres as we weren’t able to get them up to the right temperature. If the Sprint Race tomorrow is also wet it won’t be an easy session for us, but as of now it looks like there is a higher chance of dry conditions. In any case, we will try to recover some positions and face qualifying in the afternoon with good momentum.

Charles Leclerc #16
I lost it on the out lap in Turn 8 during SQ3, which compromised our session. I don’t think there was much we could have done differently today. We did some good work in terms of tyre preparation in dry conditions, which seems to be paying off. We’ll give it our all in the Sprint Race and then reset for qualifying tomorrow afternoon.Fred Vasseur
Team Principal

The conditions in SQ3 were extremely difficult and we struggled to get the Intermediates up to temperature, although I think this was the same for everyone. We will analyse all the data to see what we can learn from this first wet session, even if I reckon the condition of the track surface made the situation even more tricky. The forecast for tomorrow is better and we expect the rest of the weekend to be dry. We definitely had been hoping for a slightly less complicated first day on track given that we have not raced here for five year and this is our first time here with the new generation of cars. We are working a bit in the dark and the asphalt is particularly difficult to understand, but I think we are working in the right way and I hope the fact we have saved a set of Mediums today will be useful later. Tomorrow, we will start off by trying to score points and then switch our focus to Sunday when the big points are given out.

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