Lando Norris fears Max Verstappen’s “boring” dominance of Formula One is forcing fans away.

Verstappen became the first driver this century to start the season with five consecutive pole positions after a crushing performance in qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The Dutchman, 26, saw off Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez by 0.322 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit to take top spot, after he earlier raced from fourth to first in the 19-lap sprint race.

Remarkably, since Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 world championship in Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull driver has won 37 of the 48 races staged, and he is firmly on course to wrap up his fourth title in as many seasons.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has already said that Verstappen will not be caught – despite there being 20 races of this record-breaking 24-race season left.

And speaking ahead of the fifth round of the campaign in China, Norris, considered to be Verstappen’s best friend on the grid, said: “It is frustrating for people watching but it has always been like this.

“Now, we are seeing more dominance than ever, so it is never going to be the best to watch and the only exciting races have been the ones that Max is not in.”

Asked if he was concerned Verstappen’s stranglehold on the sport could be a turn-off for fans, Norris replied: “Of course it is going to be. Of course it is going be. There is no way you can say it won’t be.

“If you see the same driver winning every single time without a fight then of course it does start to become boring and that is obvious.

“You have got one of the best drivers ever in Formula One, in one of the most dominant cars and it is a combination that is deadly. If Max wasn’t there and you had two (Sergio) Perezs it wouldn’t be the case.”

Verstappen struggled for speed in the early stages of Saturday’s sprint race but he caught, and overtook, Lewis Hamilton on the ninth lap and then pulled out an eye-watering two seconds on the Mercedes driver in just one lap. He took the chequered flag 13 sec clear.

Fernando Alonso was the closest non-Red Bull finisher to Verstappen in qualifying but the Spaniard was almost half-a-second back.

Norris, 24, continued: “Am I surprised how far Red Bull is ahead? No. When you know how tricky it is to get it right, then it makes sense. They are just smart people.

“You hope teams plateau and we are starting to get there but at the same time to suddenly jump and catch them (Red Bull), it just doesn’t work like that.”

Mercedes, behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Norris’ McLaren in the constructors’ standings, are a team far removed from the one which dominated the sport.

Hamilton will start 18th in China on Sunday, with team-mate George Russell only eighth on the grid.

Norris, who qualified fourth, added: “If you look at how dominant Mercedes have been in the past, you would have expected more from them. I did, especially how much over the last few years they have said: ‘ah, now we have got it’, and they never seem to.

“We have had that, where we have hit another roadblock, so it is tricky. But they were almost more competitive last year than they are now and you just wouldn’t expect that from them. But it shows how complicated this sport can be.”

Lewis Hamilton insisted he is “mentally very strong” after his worst qualifying in nearly seven years which was labelled a “disaster” and “unnecessary” by former rival Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton will line up in 18th position for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after his troubled start to the new season took another desperate twist in Shanghai.

Earlier on Saturday, Hamilton rolled back the years to lead the sprint race for eight laps before he had to settle for second after he was overtaken by eventual winner Max Verstappen.

But four hours after a result Hamilton described as his “best in a long time”, the 39-year-old was brought crashing back down to earth when he was eliminated in the opening phase of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

The seven-time world champion locked up at the penultimate corner on his speediest lap, and he finished in the Q1 knockout zone, leaving only RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant behind him on the grid.

An exasperated Mercedes boss Toto Wolff looked to the heavens after Hamilton’s fate was confirmed.

“Sorry guys,” reported Hamilton over the radio. He finished eight tenths off the pace and half-a-second behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

Hamilton last suffered such a lowly grid spot when he crashed out of qualifying in Brazil in 2017.

“That is seriously painful,” said Rosberg, who endured a fractious relationship with Hamilton as they duelled for the title.

The German, who eventually beat Hamilton to the championship in 2016 before retiring only days later, added in commentary for Sky Sports: “It was really unnecessary to push the limit and as a seven-time world champion that is a mistake which should be avoidable.

“He broke three metres too late, and he had the brake balance too far forward. He lost at least four tenths which easily would have put him in Q2. That’s a disaster.”

Aside from his strong showing in Saturday’s 19-lap dash to the chequered flag – assisted by his impressive display in Friday’s rain-hit qualifying session – this has been Hamilton’s worst-ever start to a season.

The British driver, who is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari next year, failed to finish inside the top six at the opening four rounds of the campaign. And his bleak result leaves him staring at another underwhelming race.

Addressing Rosberg’s remarks, Hamilton said: “It wasn’t one of my best qualifying laps. I don’t blame anything on the team.

“I’m very strong mentally. It’s not great, it’s not a mind-f*** at all. S*** happens, you know.

“Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. This car is on a knife edge so it can easily do what we did.”

Mercedes are desperately out of sorts and far removed from the all-conquering team which carried Hamilton to six of his seven record-equalling titles.

Russell will be the lead car when the lights go out for Sunday’s 57-lap race. He qualified only eighth.

Over at Red Bull, it was business as usual as Verstappen followed up his convincing sprint win with a fifth straight pole.

The Dutchman, who is on course to take his fourth championship in as many seasons, saw off team-mate Sergio Perez as Red Bull secured a front-row lockout. It also marked the team’s 100th pole in F1.

Verstappen finished 0.322 seconds clear of Perez, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third, half-a-second back.

Lando Norris, who dropped from pole to finish a disappointing sixth in the sprint race, qualified fourth, one position ahead of Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished sixth and seventh respectively for Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton’s troubled start to the new season took another desperate twist on Saturday after he qualified a lowly 18th for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton earlier in the day had led the sprint race in Shanghai for eight laps before he had to settle for runner-up after he was overtaken by eventual winner Max Verstappen.

But less than four hours after Hamilton’s drive to second place – a result he described as his “best in a long time” – the 39-year-old was brought crashing back down to earth when he was eliminated in the opening phase of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

The seven-time world champion locked up at the penultimate corner on his speediest lap, and he finished in the Q1 knockout zone, leaving only RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant behind him on the grid.

An exasperated Mercedes boss Toto Wolff looked to the heavens after Hamilton’s fate was confirmed.

“Sorry guys,” reported Hamilton, 39, over the radio. He finished eight tenths off the pace and half-a-second behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

Aside from his strong showing in Saturday’s 19-lap dash to the chequered flag, this has been Hamilton’s worst-ever start to a season.

The British driver, who is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari next year, failed to finish inside the top six at the opening four rounds of the campaign. And his bleak result in qualifying here leaves him staring at another underwhelming result.

Carlos Sainz, the man who is giving up his seat at Ferrari for Hamilton next year, brought out a red flag in Q2 after he lost control of his Ferrari.

The Spaniard dropped his rear wheels on to the gravel on the exit of the final corner, sending him backwards into the wall on the opposing side of the track.

Sainz broke his front wing but he was able to limp back to the pits.

Max Verstappen denied Lewis Hamilton the first sprint win of his career after passing his rival to win in China on Saturday.

Hamilton started second, and rolled back the years at the Shanghai International Circuit by beating pole-sitter Lando Norris off the line, and taking control of the 19-lap charge to the chequered flag.

But Verstappen, who started fourth, ended Hamilton’s dream of re-entering the winner’s enclosure for the first time in 867 days when he blasted past the Mercedes driver on the ninth lap.

Verstappen crossed the line 13 seconds clear of Hamilton with Sergio Perez taking third.

Hamilton joined Norris to form an all-British front-row in something of a topsy-turvy grid following yesterday’s rain-hit qualifying session.

The seven-time world champion was quicker away from his marks than Norris, and as they entered the first corner, he was fractionally ahead of his compatriot.

Hamilton hugged the inside line of the long, right-handed first bend, with Norris desperately trying to remain at least on level terms.

But off the racing line, Norris struggled for grip, and he slid off the track, dropping back down the field to seventh.

Hamilton, who has endured the worst-ever start to a season in his misfiring Mercedes machine, was back in the lead of an F1 race, with Fernando Alonso tucked in behind and Verstappen being forced to fend off Carlos Sainz.

“Why is my battery flat,” yelled Verstappen as he struggled to make any impression on Alonso ahead.

For a moment, it looked as though Hamilton could be in a position to take the victory – his first of any sort in F1 since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5, 2021, only for Verstappen to sensationally unlock the speed in his all-conquering Red Bull machine.

On the seventh lap, Verstappen passed Alonso at the penultimate corner and then set about closing the 1.8-second gap to Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver was immediately on the radio. “This thing won’t turn in the low-speed corners,” he bemoaned, with Verstappen taking a second out of his lead in just one lap.

At the start of lap nine, Verstappen was crawling all over the back of Hamilton’s mirrors in scenes reminiscent of their championship battle for the ages back in 2021.

Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington came on the intercom to tell Hamilton that Verstappen was behind.

“Leave me to it, man,” snapped Hamilton. “I can see him.”

Verstappen moved into Hamilton’s tow on the 210mph drag to the last-but one corner before jinking to the right of the Mercedes and launching his Red Bull up the inside.

Hamilton was unable to afford any sort of resistance and Verstappen made the move stick. He then demonstrated the speed of his Red Bull by establishing a two-second lead in just one lap.

Further back, and Alonso, 43 this summer, was commendably keeping a gaggle of faster cars behind.

But his resistance ended on a fascinating 16th lap which saw him go wheel-to-wheel with the Ferrari of Sainz.

Alonso and Sainz even banged wheels through the seventh corner with Perez able to sneak ahead of the duelling duo. Charles Leclerc followed through, too, as Alonso lost three places in one lap before diving into the pits with a front-right puncture. He later retired the car.

Sainz then appeared to force team-mate Leclerc off the road as they battled for fourth position in the closing stages.

“What the f***,” yelled Leclerc who managed to pass his team-mate a few corners later to finished fourth. Sainz crossed the line in fifth with Norris sixth.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said he was pleased with the result.

“This is the best result I have had in a long time so I am super happy,” he said.

“This is a huge step and a huge improvement. The rain helped yesterday. The race was tough and if I started further back I would have struggled to make progress.”

Max Verstappen denied Lewis Hamilton the first sprint win of his career after passing his rival to win in China on Saturday.

Hamilton started second, and rolled back the years at the Shanghai International Circuit by beating pole-sitter Lando Norris off the line, and taking control of the 19-lap charge to the chequered flag.

But Verstappen, who started fourth, ended Hamilton’s dream of re-entering the winner’s enclosure for the first time in 867 days when he blasted past the Mercedes driver on the ninth lap.

Verstappen crossed the line 13 seconds clear of Hamilton with Sergio Perez taking third.

Hamilton joined Norris to form an all-British front-row in something of a topsy-turvy grid following yesterday’s rain-hit qualifying session.

The seven-time world champion was quicker away from his marks than Norris, and as they entered the first corner, he was fractionally ahead of his compatriot.

Hamilton hugged the inside line of the long, right-handed first bend, with Norris desperately trying to remain at least on level terms.

But off the racing line, Norris struggled for grip, and he slid off the track, dropping back down the field to seventh.

Hamilton, who has endured the worst-ever start to a season in his misfiring Mercedes machine, was back in the lead of an F1 race, with Fernando Alonso tucked in behind and Verstappen being forced to fend off Carlos Sainz.

“Why is my battery flat,” yelled Verstappen as he struggled to make any impression on Alonso ahead.

For a moment, it looked as though Hamilton could be in a position to take the victory – his first of any sort in F1 since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5, 2021, only for Verstappen to sensationally unlock the speed in his all-conquering Red Bull machine.

On the seventh lap, Verstappen passed Alonso at the penultimate corner and then set about closing the 1.8-second gap to Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver was immediately on the radio. “This thing won’t turn in the low-speed corners,” he bemoaned, with Verstappen taking a second out of his lead in just one lap.

At the start of lap nine, Verstappen was crawling all over the back of Hamilton’s mirrors in scenes reminiscent of their championship battle for the ages back in 2021.

Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington came on the intercom to tell Hamilton that Verstappen was behind.

“Leave me to it, man,” snapped Hamilton. “I can see him.”

Verstappen moved into Hamilton’s tow on the 210mph drag to the last-but one corner before jinking to the right of the Mercedes and launching his Red Bull up the inside.

Hamilton was unable to afford any sort of resistance and Verstappen made the move stick. He then demonstrated the speed of his Red Bull by establishing a two-second lead in just one lap.

Further back, and Alonso, 43 this summer, was commendably keeping a gaggle of faster cars behind.

But his resistance ended on a fascinating 16th lap which saw him go wheel-to-wheel with the Ferrari of Sainz.

Alonso and Sainz even banged wheels through the seventh corner with Perez able to sneak ahead of the duelling duo. Charles Leclerc followed through, too, as Alonso lost three places in one lap before diving into the pits with a front-right puncture. He later retired the car.

Sainz then appeared to force team-mate Leclerc off the road as they battled for fourth position in the closing stages.

“What the f***,” yelled Leclerc who managed to pass his team-mate a few corners later to finished fourth. Sainz crossed the line in fifth with Norris sixth.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said he was pleased with the result.

“This is the best result I have had in a long time so I am super happy,” he said.

“This is a huge step and a huge improvement. The rain helped yesterday. The race was tough and if I started further back I would have struggled to make progress.”

Lando Norris said it was “all or nothing” as he mastered a rain-hit qualifying to secure pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix.

In treacherous conditions in Shanghai, Norris tip-toed his McLaren to top spot, finishing 1.2 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in an all-British front row for Saturday’s 19-lap dash.

For a moment Hamilton, who has endured his worst start ever to a season, looked to have taken a surprise pole when Norris’ best lap was chalked off for exceeding track limits at the final corner.

But the stewards U-turned on their decision after it became evident the 23-year-old had not gained an advantage as he scrambled for grip while gearing up for his pole lap.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso will line up from third for Saturday’s sprint race, one position ahead of Max Verstappen who struggled in the inclement conditions in his all-conquering Red Bull.

“It was wild,” said Norris. “You always know it is going to be in a session like this.

“You only have three laps. The first two I aborted so that last lap was all or nothing. I was nervous because I made a few mistakes, but you have to risk a lot and push and I was quick.

“I got a good final lap in for pole so I am happy. I am sad it is not real qualifying, but it is good enough. It gets your heart going and it is what we wanted.”

On Formula One’s return to China after a five-year absence, rain threatened throughout qualifying and it finally arrived for the decisive Q3 session.

Charles Leclerc was the first to fall foul of the downpour when he lost control of his Ferrari. The Monegasque pirouetted through the gravel before hitting the wall at Turn 2 and breaking the front wing on his Ferrari. He had to settle for seventh.

Verstappen made not one, but two uncharacteristic mistakes – driving off the road in his first attempt at pole, before later running through the sandtrap at the final corner.

Mercedes’ wretched run had appeared set to continue here after George Russell was eliminated in 11th in the dry – but when the rain landed, Hamilton looked at home as he secured his spot on the front row.

“I am so happy,” said the 39-year-old, who failed to finish inside the top six at any of the opening four rounds.

“When I saw the rain coming I was getting excited because in the dry we are not quick enough. I thought I would have a better opportunity and that is when it all came alive.

“Tomorrow depends on the conditions and if it is like that, maybe we will have a chance of being somewhere up there, but if it is dry the Ferraris and Red Bull will come by.”

Earlier, the start of Q2 was delayed by several minutes following a second bizarre track fire of the day.

Practice was red-flagged when a patch of grass next to Turn 7 caught fire. And in qualifying the grass was ablaze again, this time at Turn 5.

Although both fires were quickly extinguished, the incidents – which the FIA believes were caused by sparks flying off the drivers’ cars – will be a concern for the sport’s bosses.

Saturday’s sprint takes place at 11am local time (04:00 BST) ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

Lando Norris mastered a rain-hit qualifying to secure pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix.

In soaking conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit, Norris finished 1.2 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in an all-British front row for Saturday’s 19-lap dash.

Hamilton looked to have taken top spot after Norris’ best lap was deleted by the stewards only for it then to be reinstated.

“Simply beautiful,” said Norris after he was informed of his pole. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso qualified third, one place ahead of triple world champion Max Verstappen, who ran off the road on numerous occasions.

Rain threatened throughout qualifying and finally arrived for the decisive Q3 session.

Charles Leclerc was the first to fall foul of the torrid conditions when he lost control of his Ferrari. The Monegasque pirouetted through the gravel before hitting the wall at Turn 2 and braking the front wing on his Ferrari.

Verstappen also made an error, falling off the road in his first attempt, before then running through the sandtrap at the final corner. The driver, who has dominated Formula One, had to settle for fourth.

Hamilton has had a season to forget – statistically, at least, the worst of his career so far. But for a moment here, he topped the time charts only to see Norris edge him out with an impressive lap.

Norris’ time was initially chalked off for exceeding track limits but after the British driver, 23, complained he “didn’t go off anywhere”, the stewards u-turned on their decision.

“It was tricky,” said Norris. “You always know it is going to be in a session like this.

“You only have three laps. The first two I aborted so that last lap was all or nothing.

“I was nervous because I made a few mistakes, but you have to risk a lot and push and I was quick.

“I got a good final lap in for pole so I am happy, sad it is not real qualifying, but it is good enough. It gets your heart going and it is what we wanted.”

Mercedes’ wretched run looked set to continue after George Russell was eliminated in 11th but when the rain arrived, Hamilton looked at home to secure his spot on the front row.

Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz finished fifth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez with Leclerc seventh.

F1 is back in China following a five-year absence and home favourite Zhou Guanyu sent the home crowd happy after he qualified 10th.

Earlier, the start of Q2 was delayed by several minutes following a second bizarre track fire of the day.

Practice was red-flagged when a patch of grass next to Turn 7 caught fire. And there was a similar incident in qualifying, this time at Turn 5.

Although both blazes were quickly extinguished, the incidents – which the FIA believe were caused by sparks flying off the drivers’ cars – will be a concern for the sport’s bosses.

Saturday’s sprint takes place at 11am local time (04:00 BST) ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

Daniel Ricciardo said he has been assured by Red Bull that he is not set to lose his seat – but admitted if he continues to get his “arse whooped” he does not deserve to be in Formula One.

Following a troubled start to his first full season back on the grid, Ricciardo, 34, arrives for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix as a driver under pressure.

Ricciardo was handed a reprieve by Red Bull’s junior outfit, RB, midway through last season, after he was dumped by McLaren.

But he has failed to get up to speed in 2024, out-qualified by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda at every event, and without a point to his name.

He also crashed out on the first lap in Japan a fortnight ago, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner – integral in bringing him back into the fold – said here in Shanghai that Ricciardo has “under-performed” so far this season.

It has even been suggested that a failure to turn his troubling form around could see Ricciardo replaced by Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson as early as the next race in Miami.

But in an interview with the PA news agency, Ricciardo said: “Everybody in the team is shutting that down. The black and white, is that I have a contract.

“However, I have to earn my spot. I don’t want these results to continue for a year, and for me to say: ‘well I should be here because it is on paper’. I am not going to be happy with that. At the end of the day, if I am getting my arse whooped I don’t deserve to be here.

“I want to get back to a place where I know I can be, and I feel confident I can get there. I am aware I have to get the results. But from my side, I am not a rookie trying to prove something or to establish myself. I do have a history in this sport. I do have a track record that says I can win.

“But if we get to December and I have not been able to extract that then maybe I will be like, ‘fine I am done with this’ or ‘I am not good enough’, but I certainly don’t feel like that in my heart.”

Ricciardo’s stock fell after two poor years with McLaren, and his career looked over when his contract was cancelled at the end of 2022. But an upbeat Ricciardo believes his troubled spell with the British team has allowed him to remain positive amid his current disappointing run.

“I went through this at McLaren and I bought into the noise because I ended up losing the belief,” he said. “I would question myself: ‘F***, maybe I have lost that edge? Maybe I can’t do it anymore?’

“But now I sit here in a different place because I do feel rejuvenated. That is why it is frustrating because in my head it makes no sense.

“If I do well here and in Miami, all of a sudden it is forgotten about. I don’t get caught up in it, but deep down, I know I have to do better.”

Ricciardo announced at his comeback race in Hungary last year that his dream is to return to Red Bull where he raced to seven of his eight career wins between 2014 and 2018.

But recent results have seen him looking over his shoulder, rather than as a potential replacement for Sergio Perez, who is out of contract at the end of the year, or even Max Verstappen, whose future with the all-conquering, but scandal-hit team, remains uncertain.

“Is it still a goal (to re-join Red Bull)? said Ricciardo. “Of course. But where I sit right now, I don’t want to talk about it because I know I have to do better.

“I am also aware that if I start talking about that, all the responses, will be like, ‘mate, focus on where you are’, which is the truth.

“And look, can anything happen in F1? Yes. But my prediction is that Max stays (at Red Bull).”

Lewis Hamilton said “people continue to talk s***” about him amid his worst start to a Formula One season.

The 39-year-old has scored just 10 points from the opening four rounds following his Mercedes team’s misfiring campaign.

Hamilton has failed to finish in the top six so far, and crossed the line a distant ninth at the last round in Japan a fortnight ago.

Hamilton, who is moving to Ferrari next year, was asked if Mercedes’ early-season troubles vindicated his decision to quit the team, which carried him to six of his record-equalling seven world championships.

“I don’t feel like I need my decision vindicating,” he said. “I know what is right for me, and that hasn’t changed from the moment I made the decision.

“There’s not been a moment that I’ve questioned it, and I’m not swayed by other people’s comments.

“Even today, there’s people continuing to talk s***, and that will continue on for the rest of the year.

“I’ll have to just do what I did the previous time (when he moved to Mercedes from McLaren). Only I can know what’s right for me, and this (joining Ferrari) will be an exciting time for me.”

Hamilton, who was speaking ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix – the first staged here since 2019 – was asked what he meant by “people taking s***”.

“Just read what’s out there,” he replied.

Hamilton will be 40 when he makes his debut for Ferrari in Australia next March.

Fernando Alonso announced last week that he will remain in the sport beyond his 45th birthday after agreeing a contract extension with Aston Martin. The Spaniard, 43 in July, will become the oldest driver of the modern era.

And Hamilton added: “I’m going to be racing for quite some time still, right into my 40s, so it’s definitely good Fernando is still around and keeps going on for a bit longer.

“I never thought I’d be racing into my 40s. I’m pretty sure I said I wouldn’t. But life is such a crazy trick. I don’t feel like I’m nearing 40. I feel like I’m pretty young.

“It’s a real positive that Fernando is staying because it means I’m not the oldest driver here.

“But also Fernando is one of the best drivers we’ve had in the sport so for him to continue to be here and continue to have the output that he’s had just shows what’s possible.”

Hamilton, who has won a record six times in China, will be back on track on Friday in qualifying for the first sprint round of the season.

In a rejig of the format this year, the grid for Sunday’s main event will now be determined after the 19-lap race which gets under way at 11:00am (4am BST) on Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton will make his Ferrari debut in Australia after Formula One’s bosses announced next season’s record-equalling 24-round calendar.

Hamilton, 39, is set to realise a childhood dream when he swaps Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025, with the seven-time world champion’s opening race to take place in Melbourne on March 16.

It will mark the first time since 2019 that the F1 season has kicked off at Albert Park after the following year’s scheduled opener was cancelled at the last minute amid the outbreak of coronavirus.

The 2025 campaign is due to end in Abu Dhabi on December 7, with the British Grand Prix – starting the first of its new 10-year contract extension at Silverstone – on July 6.

Triple world champion Max Verstappen has been vocal in his criticism at the ever-expanding length of the F1 schedule.

But for next season, at least, there will be no new additions to the calendar.

The campaign has started in Bahrain for the past four seasons, but with Ramadan staged throughout March in 2025, the rounds in the Gulf kingdom, and in Saudi Arabia, will be pushed back to April.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “2025 will be a special year as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Formula One World Championship, and it’s that legacy and experience that allows us to deliver such a strong calendar.

“Once again, we’ll visit 24 incredible venues around the world, delivering top-class racing, hospitality, and entertainment, which will be enjoyed by millions of fans worldwide.

“I would also like to pay tribute to our F1 teams and drivers, the heroes of our sport, and our fans around the world for continuing to follow Formula One with such incredible enthusiasm.”

After four rounds of the current season, Verstappen holds a 13-point championship lead in his bid to secure four consecutive world titles. The next race takes place in Shanghai a week on Sunday.

Full 2025 F1 calendar

March 16 – Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)
March 23 – Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai)
April 6 – Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)
April 13 – Bahrain Grand Prix (Sakhir)
April 20 – Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Jeddah)
May 4 – Miami Grand Prix (Miami)
May 18 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (Imola)
May 25 – Monaco Grand Prix (Monte Carlo)
June 1 – Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona)
June 15 – Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal)
June 29 – Austrian Grand Prix (Spielberg)
July 6 – British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
July 27 – Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps)
August 3 – Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungaroring)
August 31 – Dutch Grand Prix (Zandvoort)
September 7 – Italian Grand Prix (Monza)
September 21 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Baku)
October 5 – Singapore Grand Prix (Marina Bay)
October 19 – United States Grand Prix (Austin)
October 26 – Mexico City Grand Prix (Mexico City)
November 9 – Brazilian Grand Prix (Interlagos)
November 22 – Las Vegas Grand Prix (Las Vegas)
November 30 – Qatar Grand Prix (Lusail)
December 7 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina)

Fernando Alonso will remain in Formula One beyond his 45th birthday after agreeing a new multi-season deal with Aston Martin.

Double world champion Alonso, who will be 43 in July, had been linked with Mercedes and Red Bull – as replacements for Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen respectively.

But Aston Martin announced on Thursday that Alonso, whose current deal had been due to expire at the end of the year, has agreed new terms to remain with them until at least the end of 2026.

Both Mercedes, searching for a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Hamilton, and Red Bull – with Verstappen said to be unsettled at the scandal-hit Red Bull team – had been tracking Alonso’s next move.

And Alonso admitted: “I did speak with other people. It is normal when you enter negotiations that you need to balance the market and listen to everybody else.

“I will not be specific as to which team I spoke with because this is not important. When teams are searching for a driver, they touch base with everyone just to know their position. They always want to know everything and for me it was the same.

“Maybe more time was needed (by them), while with Aston Martin there was a clear desire to work together so that is why it was very easy to stay. I felt the most wanted by them. All the other conversations were just light, and never came to any conclusions.

“I will not wait to see if there is something happening and I can jump in. I will dictate my destiny, whether that is for good or for bad.”

Alonso will this season become the first driver to take part in 400 grands prix, and his new deal is set to make him comfortably the oldest F1 driver of the modern era.

Michael Schumacher was 43 when he retired for a second time in 2012, while Kimi Raikkonen was a year younger when he walked away from the sport in 2021.

“I love driving too much that I cannot stop at the moment,” added Alonso. “I breathe Formula One, I live Formula One, and I train and eat to drive Formula One cars.

“The moment hasn’t arrived that I need to change my lifestyle. I will not be happy sitting at home and watching Formula One races because I still feel I should be there.

“If one day I feel I am not motivated, or I am not in good shape, or I am not fast and sharp, I will be the first one to raise my hand and we will find a solution with Aston Martin.

“But I don’t see that coming for the next few years. Japan (on Sunday) was one of my best races ever, and that happened five days ago. Lewis will also be 40 in January, so at least I will not be the only one next year who is over 40.”

Alonso took the last of his two world titles in 2006, and has not won a race in more than a decade.

But the former Ferrari and McLaren man is still considered as one of the brightest stars of the F1 field.

Last year, in his first season at Aston Martin, he helped to transform the British team from also-rans to frontrunners. He took eight podiums and finished fourth in the championship.

Although Aston Martin have not been able to maintain that form, there is hope that the next major regulation change in 2026, which will see them partner with Honda – the Japanese manufacturer that has powered Red Bull to its recent successes – will allow Alonso to compete at the sharp end of the grid once more.

Alonso continued: “We have achieved so many highs here in such a short space of time. It is probably unprecedented in Formula One.

“This is only the beginning of the journey, so it could not be the end for me and Aston Martin.”

Fernando Alonso will remain with Aston Martin beyond this season after signing a new ‘multi-year’ deal with the British-based Formula One team.

Double world champion Alonso, who will be 43 in July, had been linked with Mercedes and Red Bull – as possible replacements for Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen respectively.

But Aston Martin announced on Thursday that Alonso, whose current deal had been due to expire at the end of the year, has agreed a contract extension.

“I am here to stay,” said Alonso via an Aston Martin press release. The team did not mention the length of the new deal.

Team principal Mike Krack said: “Securing Fernando’s long-term future with Aston Martin is fantastic news.

“We have built a strong working relationship over the last 18 months and we share the same determination to see this project succeed.

“We have been in constant dialogue over the last few months and Fernando has been true to his word: when he decided he wanted to continue racing, he talked to us first. Fernando has shown he believes in us, and we believe in him.

“Fernando is hungry for success, driving better than ever, is fitter than ever, and is completely dedicated to making Aston Martin a competitive force.

“This multi-year agreement with Fernando takes us into 2026 when we begin our works power unit partnership with Honda. We look forward to creating more incredible memories and achieving further success together.”

Alonso, who has won 32 races, will this season become the first driver to take part in 400 grands prix, and his latest deal will take him beyond his 45th birthday.

Both Mercedes, searching for a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Hamilton, and Red Bull – with Verstappen said to be unsettled at the scandal-hit Red Bull team – had been tracking Alonso’s next move.

But the Spaniard will enter into at least a third season with Aston Martin, with ambitious owner Lawrence Stroll determined to turn the Silverstone-based team into championship contenders.

Alonso took the last of his two world titles in 2006, and has not won a race in more than a decade.

But he is still considered as one of the stars of the F1 field, and last year helped to transform Aston Martin from also-rans to frontrunners. He took eight podiums and finished fourth in the championship.

After the opening four rounds of the new campaign, Alonso is eighth in the standings.

Carlos Sainz is refusing to throw in the towel at such an early stage of the Formula One season – insisting he has “nothing to lose” in his last year at Ferrari.

After Max Verstappen led home a dominant Red Bull one-two in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the Dutchman was uncatchable this year.

Having clinched the previous three drivers’ titles, Verstappen is once again the overwhelming favourite to claim the crown.

He has won three of the opening four races, with a brake failure causing him to retire early on at the Australian Grand Prix last month – where Sainz went on to take the chequered flag.

The Spaniard was back in action after missing the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix with appendicitis and, having finished third behind the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez at Suzuka, he was not ready to cede the fight.

In what will be the longest season in F1 history – there are still 20 races left with four having been run – Sainz is hopeful Ferrari can improve across the course of the year, although he also doubted if that would be enough to haul in Verstappen.

“I think they are definitely going to have an advantage in the first third of the season until we bring one or two upgrades that makes us fight them more consistently,” he said.

“By that time, maybe it’s a bit too late with the advantage that they might have on the championship. In the meantime, we need more Australias! Which I don’t see Red Bull, as a team, making these mistakes very often, no.

“It is a shame, because also I missed a race, which for both the team and me, it could be costly in the championship. We’re competing in one race less, but at the same time, we’re going to give it our best shot.

“It’s my last year in Ferrari also, so yeah, nothing to lose and we will try everything to make it back.”

Sainz has lost his seat to Lewis Hamilton from next year, the seven-time world champion moving across to partner Charles Leclerc from 2025 onwards.

Hamilton will be hoping to return to a competitive car, with Mercedes struggling for another season this time around.

The 39-year-old has amassed just 10 points so far – his worst-ever tally after the opening four races of a season.

Wolff labelled Hamilton’s first run on the hard tyres in Japan as “atrocious” and the Brit himself was bullish when asked if he could have improved on his ninth-placed finish.

“I don’t know what the different strategy would have been, whether if we stayed on the mediums to start with, but we still had two really terrible hard tyres to run through,” he said.

“It was a real challenge, I think I picked up a bit of damage at the beginning with Charles (Leclerc) when he came around the outside and I had huge understeer for the first stint.

“I couldn’t turn the car through any of the corners. That’s why I let (team-mate) George (Russell) through.

“The hard tyre was pretty bad, as I said, the medium tyre was much better. So for sure, in hindsight it looks like we should have had two (sets of) medium tyres but in general the car, it was just pretty bad.”

A return to China is next on the calendar, with the Shanghai International Circuit hosting its first grand prix since 2019 and with the first sprint race of the season also taking place.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists Max Verstappen’s fourth consecutive title is already a foregone conclusion after the Red Bull driver cruised to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen returned to winning ways in dominant fashion as the reigning drivers’ champion triumphed at Suzuka.

Having retired last time out in Australia, it was normal service resumed for the Dutchman as he led home a Red Bull one-two with Sergio Perez finishing second.

Verstappen twice led into the first corner off the line after the race was restarted following a first-lap incident which saw both Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon crash out after making contact.

From there, Verstappen controlled the pace and the result never looked in doubt, as he took the chequered flag and the fastest lap to open up a 13-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.

His brake failure in Melbourne aside, Verstappen has looked in imperious form in the opening four rounds of 2024.

In what is Formula One’s longest-ever season there are still 20 races remaining, but Wolff was in no doubt that he feels Verstappen will once again be untouchable.

“No one is going to catch Max this year,” he said.

“His driving and the car are just spectacular. You can see the way he manages the tyres and basically this season now is best of the rest.

“If I was to look from a pure sporting point of view it is P1 what matters, not P2, P3 or P4 but this is the reality that we are facing at the moment.

“We’re trying to do the best out of this new reality and that is to beat our competitors whilst acknowledging that somebody is just doing a better job and setting the benchmark that we eventually need to set ourselves again.”

Wolff’s prediction of another year of Red Bull dominance was brushed aside by opposing team principal Christian Horner.

Horner and Wolff have history as rivals and have never been shy of mixing words.

“It’s very early to write off the year,” Horner said.

“There’s still 20 races to go. I’ve learned not to listen too much to what Toto says over the years.

“It was great to bounce back after the DNF in Australia, after such a great start to the season, it was important to bounce back quickly.

“I think that we’ve done that emphatically here at Suzuka this weekend. It’s a great performance.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, took the statement in a lighter mood: “Lately Toto’s been really nice! Saying a lot of nice things about me.”

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz took the last step on the podium with a strong strategy from Ferrari enough for him to leapfrog Lando Norris, with McLaren misjudging a call to pit the Briton early for his final stop.

A strong showing from Ferrari saw the sister car of Charles Leclerc come home fourth ahead of Norris, Fernando Alonso hung on to take sixth for Aston Martin with a late push from George Russell seeing him pass the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri on the closing lap to secure seventh.

Lewis Hamilton had said after qualifying that his Mercedes felt better than it had in the last three years but he struggled for genuine pace and dropped back through the field during his first stint, eventually having to settle for ninth as home favourite Yuki Tsunoda became the first Japanese driver to score points at Suzuka in 12 years by coming 10th for RB.

Max Verstappen returned to winning ways in dominant fashion as the world champion cruised to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Having retired last time out in Australia, it was normal service resumed for the Dutchman at Suzuka where he led home a Red Bull one-two as Sergio Perez finished second.

Verstappen twice led into the first corner off the line after the race was restarted following a first-lap incident.

From there he controlled the pace of the race and the result never looked in doubt, with Verstappen taking the chequered flag and the fastest lap to open up a 13-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship as he aims for a fourth successive title.

Perez did well to overcome a minor threat from Ferrari as Carlos Sainz took the last step on the podium with a strong strategy enough for him leapfrog Lando Norris, with McLaren misjudging a call to pit the Briton early for his final stop.

A strong showing from Ferrari saw the sister car of Charles Leclerc come home fourth ahead of Norris, while the fight for the minor points places proved to be the most exciting battle of the afternoon.

Fernando Alonso hung on to take sixth for Aston Martin with a late push from George Russell seeing him pass the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri on the closing lap to secure seventh.

Lewis Hamilton had said after qualifying that his Mercedes felt better than it had in the last three years but he struggled for genuine pace and had to settle for ninth as home favourite Yuki Tsunoda took the final point, coming in 10th for RB.

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