Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll dominates in Shanghai as Formula One returns to China

Lance Stroll

19th April 2024 – (Shanghai) Lance Stroll of Aston Martin set the pace in Friday’s practice session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, clocking the fastest lap at the Shanghai International Circuit. His time of 1 minute, 36.302 seconds led McLaren’s Oscar Piastri by 0.327 seconds, marking a strong start as the sport returned to a track it had not raced on since 2019.

The session was the sole free practice due to the weekend’s schedule featuring the season’s first sprint race, placing added pressure on teams to maximize their one-hour window for tire assessments and setup validations. The recent shift to ground-effect cars, featuring 18-inch tyres and aerodynamics focused on under-car air channels, added to the complexity of adapting to the long-unvisited circuit.

McLaren’s team principal, Andrea Stella, noted the challenges during a post-session press conference, highlighting unexpected grip levels and significant tire wear. The session also saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finishing third and fourth respectively, while a brief trackside fire caused a temporary red flag, adding to the day’s disruptions.

The weekend promises further excitement with weather conditions expected to influence the sprint and qualifying sessions. Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, anticipated an action-packed setup period as teams recalibrate strategies for the unpredictable conditions.

Mercedes faced difficulties, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, focusing solely on hard tyres, finishing in the lower ranks. Meanwhile, China’s own Zhou Guanyu placed 11th for Sauber, adding local interest to the event.