Chinese Grand Prix: Aston Martin's Lance Stroll fastest in Shanghai practice

Stroll set the fastest lap of 1 minute, 36.302 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit, with Oscar Piastri second and triple world champion Max Verstappen third

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll set the fastest time at the Shanghai International Circuit, 0.327 secs quicker than McLaren's Oscar Piastri. AFP
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Aston Martin's Lance Stroll lapped fastest in Friday's sole free practice session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix with McLaren's Oscar Piastri second on the timesheets.

Stroll set the fastest lap of 1 minute, 36.302 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit, 0.327 quicker than Piastri.

Red Bull's triple world champion Max Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez were third and fourth.

In an eventful practice session for Sunday's grand prix, which returns to the schedule after a five-year absence, drivers had to wait out a brief stoppage early on due to a small fire next to the track, which led to a red flag.

The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were 13th and 14th.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, the winner of the last grand prix in Shanghai, was shown a black and white flag after locking up and running off the track and across the pit entry line.

Both Hamilton and teammate George Russell used only hard tyres throughout the session, with the pair finishing 17th and 18th.

Shanghai-born Zhou Guanyu, China's first and only Formula One driver, was 11th, one spot behind Sauber teammate Valtteri Bottas.

With Shanghai hosting the first sprint race of the season, only one hour of free practice was allotted on Friday. Sprint qualifying takes place later in the day.

The race has not been held since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The track has seen little use since and could be bumpier than before.

Some drivers have voiced concerns over the decision to have a 100km Saturday sprint in China when there are so many unknowns.

World champion Verstappen will be hoping to clinch his first win in Shanghai in Sunday's race and extend his lead in the driver's standings.

Updated: April 19, 2024, 5:58 AM