Lando Norris pips Lewis Hamilton to pole in chaotic qualifying for Chinese Grand Prix sprint race

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Lando Norris took pole position for the sprint race of the Chinese Grand Prix in a chaotic qualifying session as the rain fell in Shanghai.

Lewis Hamilton, who along with teammate George Russell had been struggling, looked to have taken an unlikely pole after mastering the wet conditions far better than his rivals only to be pipped late on by Norris.

The younger Briton initially had that lap time deleted for exceeding track limits on the final corner of the preceding lap but the FIA changed its mind after deciding he had gained no advantage on the subsequent lap and his time was reinstated.

Afterwards, Norris: “I’m extremely happy. It was tricky. You’ll always nervous going into a session like this. I got a good final one, good enough for pole.”

It equates to an all-British front row for tomorrow’s shorter race, the first sprint of the 2024 season at a time when Max Verstappen looked set to dominate the race against the clock.

Red Bull have been comfortably fastest in China to date this weekend until the rain began to fall late in the second of the three qualifying sessions, which had already seen Russell knocked out of contention.

In Q3, Verstappen twice came off the track and had his subsequent lap times deleted as a result and will start the sprint race in fourth place behind the British duo and Fernando Alonso.

Charles Leclerc, who had looked set to be the closest challenger to the Red Bull, came off track and hit the barriers but the damage was not enough to force him out. He could only finish the session seventh, though, as Carlos Sainz took fifth ahead of Sergio Perez.

Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu delighted home fans as he snuck into Q3 by the barest of margins and will start the sprint race in 10th.