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2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix - Friday Practice Results

China GP: Stroll Leads Piastri Amid Trackside Fire

19/04/2024

During the Chinese GP free practice, Lance Stroll topped the timesheets while a trackside fire caused a brief disruption.

The Sprint weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix started this morning in Shanghai under clear skies for the 20 drivers and 10 teams—a welcome development given there’s just one hour of Free Practice to either discover or rediscover this circuit, which has a newly resurfaced track and hasn’t been used since 2019 by Formula 1. However, conditions could change for the sprint qualifying (the Shootout) later as rain might make an appearance!

Five teams have brought updates for this Grand Prix. There are no changes at Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, and Stake. The other five teams have introduced new parts.

Mercedes has added a small wing behind the Halo to enhance air flow. Williams has also revised the area around the Halo. RB F1 has reshaped the area around the driver’s headrest.

The most significant updates are at Alpine and Haas F1. Alpine F1 has introduced three updates, all aimed at improving the floor on Esteban Ocon’s car. Haas has introduced five different new parts, including a new floor and a narrower structure around the mirrors.

Drivers quickly took to the track for relatively long stints, as is customary in Free Practice during a Sprint to work on settings.

The first fifteen minutes went smoothly, but smoke grenades were spotted on the track, and one seems to have reached the grass at turn 7, which is starting to catch fire! A red flag is waved with 45 minutes of Free Practice remaining.

A few square meters of grass are completely burned but haven’t affected the track or the trackside barriers. Time continues to tick away. It’s worth noting that organizers can now be penalized for these smoke grenades, following incidents at Zandvoort and frequently at Spa and the Red Bull Ring.

At this point in the session, Verstappen leads ahead of Perez, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Alonso, Zhou, Ocon, Norris, Gasly, and Magnussen. This ranking is very provisional with times that are not very representative, almost 5 seconds off the pace set, for instance, during Free Practice 1 in 2019.

The incident only caused a 4-minute delay for the drivers, who resumed with 41 minutes of practice left.

Upon resumption, the Ferrari drivers moved to the front, with Carlos Sainz leading followed by Charles Leclerc, ahead of the Red Bull drivers. The lap times are around 1 minute 38 seconds, still far from the best known times on this track, even though F1 cars have significantly changed since 2019.

Lewis Hamilton stood out on the track, racing with other F1 cars and making some braking errors. He even went straight off because of this and had to head back to the pits. Apart from this, the drivers continued their programs, using very different tires between teammates to gather as much information as possible in this single hour of practice. However, it’s worth noting that Parc Fermé will be lifted after the Sprint tomorrow morning to allow changes before the Grand Prix qualifying.

With 18 minutes left, all drivers had completed between 15 and 20 laps, except for Ferrari, with just about a dozen laps for each driver. Logan Sargeant was the first to start a timed lap in the last quarter-hour and the American placed 2nd, two tenths off Leclerc’s time set 20 minutes earlier.

Albon followed and significantly improved the best time of the session to 1:37.229, nearly nine tenths ahead of Leclerc. The Williams F1 driver was on fresh soft tires. The flurry of activity continued with 10 minutes still to go.

Max Verstappen substantially beat this time with the fastest sectors across the board for the Red Bull Racing driver, clocking 1:36.660. Perez ranked 2nd, half a second behind. During this flurry, other drivers followed and matched the Red Bull times, except for Haas drivers Magnussen and Hulkenberg who ranked just ahead of Perez. However, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, and Aston Martin had yet to show their hand.

With 4 minutes to go, Piastri narrowly improved on Verstappen’s mark, clocking 1:36.629. Stroll did even better with a 1:36.302 a minute before the chequered flag. This is 2 seconds and 3 tenths slower than during Free Practice 1 in 2019.

Several teams ultimately chose not to seek a time on new tires to prepare for the Sprint Qualifying later, especially Ferrari and Mercedes F1. Thus, the hierarchy remains very provisional and not very representative.

2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix – Friday Practice Results

Pos.DriverTeamTimeLaps
01Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes AMR241:36.30221
02Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes MCL381:36.62924
03Max VerstappenRed Bull Honda RBPT RB201:36.66025
04Sergio PérezRed Bull Honda RBPT RB201:36.69024
05Nico HülkenbergHaas Ferrari VF-241:37.10123
06Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari VF-241:37.11823
07Esteban OconAlpine Renault A5241:37.21323
08Alex AlbonWilliams Mercedes FW461:37.22919
09Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT VCARB 011:37.23825
10Valtteri BottasStake F1 Kick Sauber C441:37.53024
11Guanyu ZhouStake F1 Kick Sauber C441:37.62624
12Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT VCARB 011:38.00627
13Charles LeclercFerrari SF-241:38.09020
14Carlos SainzFerrari SF-241:38.28419
15Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes FW461:38.28623
16Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes MCL381:38.63021
17George RussellMercedes W151:38.80621
18Lewis HamiltonMercedes W151:38.83924
19Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Mercedes AMR241:38.93622
20Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault A5241:39.27621
2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix - Friday Practice Results

2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix – Friday Practice Results. 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix – Friday Practice Results

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