2024 Chinese GP FP1: Lance Stroll Fastest After Track Fire

F1's exciting return to China and the first Sprint weekend of 2024 delivered surprising outcomes in the only practice session of the weekend.


By Ben Bush
Published on April 19, 2024

Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2024 Chinese Grand Prix FP1
Lance Stroll sets the fastest time in FP1 for Aston Martin at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin unexpectedly led the grid in the only practice session of the weekend before Friday’s Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, in a session that was momentarily disrupted by an odd trackside grass fire.

As Formula 1 made its much-anticipated return to the sprawling and fast Shanghai International Circuit after five years, the beginning of the season’s first Sprint weekend saw teams experimenting with various strategies during the hour-long session. This included different approaches to tyre and potentially fuel strategies, resulting in an atypical leaderboard by the session’s end.

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Fifteen minutes into the session, a small fire erupted on the grass inside of Turn Seven, prompting Race Control to bring out the red flag and send the cars back to the pits, allowing marshals to extinguish the fire.

The situation was quickly handled, leaving only a scorched patch of grass. While it was a strange event, it seems that a spark from a titanium skid block scraping the ground in the high-speed section could have ignited the fire, especially given the dry and windy conditions in Shanghai following earlier rainfall earlier in the week.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen dominated most of the session for Red Bull on both medium and soft tyres. However, as track conditions changed, he was bettered in the final moments—first by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and then by Stroll.

Stroll posted the quickest lap at 1:36.302, beating Piastri by 0.327 seconds, with Verstappen close behind by an additional 0.021 seconds.

Sergio Perez claimed fourth place in the second Red Bull, but the final timesheet seemed to hide the weekend’s true competitive landscape, especially with both Haas drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon finishing among the top six.

Ferrari, typically close contenders to Red Bull this season, opted for early soft tyre runs and gradually dropped outside the top 10. Meanwhile, Mercedes stood out as the only team not to use either the soft or medium tyres during the session.

Under the revised Sprint weekend format for 2024, teams had to quickly switch gears to prepare for the Sprint Qualifying later that day, a 44-minute session that determines the starting grid for the 19-lap Sprint race scheduled for the Saturday.

Chinese GP FP1 Results

2024 Chinese Grand Prix, 19 April 2024

118Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:36.30221
281Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes1:36.629+0.327s24
31Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:36.660+0.358s25
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:36.690+0.388s24
527Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:37.101+0.799s23
620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:37.118+0.816s23
731Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:37.213+0.911s23
823Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:37.229+0.927s19
93Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT1:37.238+0.936s25
1077Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari1:37.530+1.228s24
1124Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari1:37.626+1.324s24
1222Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT1:38.006+1.704s27
1316Charles LeclercFerrari1:38.090+1.788s20
1455Carlos SainzFerrari1:38.284+1.982s19
152Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:38.286+1.984s23
164Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes1:38.630+2.328s21
1763George RussellMercedes1:38.806+2.504s21
1844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:38.839+2.537s24
1914Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:38.936+2.634s22
2010Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:39.276+2.974s21

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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