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Lance stroll leads practice for Chinese Grand Prix amidst track uncertainties

Posted : 19 April 2024

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll led the pack in Friday's sole free practice session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, with McLaren's Oscar Piastri following closely behind. Teams grappled with the Shanghai International Circuit, which they haven't visited in five years, pondering how the current ground-effect era cars would handle the track's challenges and the impact of unexpected surface conditions that caught drivers off guard during Thursday's preparations.


Stroll set the pace with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 36.302 seconds, edging out Piastri by 0.327 seconds. Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez secured third and fourth positions, respectively. With the weekend featuring the season's first sprint race, teams had limited time to assess tire performance and validate simulator data against real track conditions, intensifying the pressure on preparations ahead of qualifying for Saturday's sprint and Sunday's main race.


Despite Piastri's strong showing, McLaren encountered initial struggles, particularly in lower-speed corners, while a brief stoppage due to a small trackside fire disrupted teams' setup evaluations. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz posted solid performances, positioning themselves ahead of the Red Bulls before shifting focus to soft-tyre runs.


As Shanghai-born Zhou Guanyu vies for success in front of his home crowd, uncertainties surrounding track conditions and the decision to introduce a sprint race amidst unfamiliar circumstances add an intriguing dimension to the race weekend, with Verstappen eyeing his maiden Shanghai victory to bolster his lead in the championship standings.




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