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Max third in only free practice of Chinese GP

Published on 19 April 2024 by Florence Cobben

Max Verstappen has finished the only free practice in the Chinese Grand Prix in third place. Five years after Formula 1 last circled the Shanghai International Circuit, Max went three-tenths slower than fastest driver Lance Stroll with a time of 1:36.660. Oscar Piastri went second fastest. 

As the lights at the end of the Shanghai International Circuit pitlane go green, almost all drivers take to the track. Max, too, immediately makes an appearance. Driving on mediums, he's extra fast. He opens with a 1:39.497 time and improves a few minutes later to 1:38.498. The time afforded by this free practice is essential, since no other free training will occur due to the sprintformat of this Grand Prix. Later today, at 9:30 CET, qualifying for the sprint will take place. The sprint itself will take place on Saturday, and qualifying is on Sunday. 

After a quarter of an hour, the track looks much the same. A red flag prompts the drivers to return to the pitlane. The cause is quite unique; a piece of grass next to the track has caught fire. Five minutes later the fire is put out and the drivers are free to return to the track. 

After the red flag, the times improve dramatically. Both Ferrari's immediately set faster times than Max. On the red tyre, Leclerc is two-tenths faster than Sainz, who in turn is a tenth faster than Max's best time. Max, meanwhile, has appeared on track on a medium tyre for a long run. 

With a little more than ten minutes to go, the drivers start practicing their qualifying laps. Alexander Albon opens the competition with a 1:37.229 time. Soon after it's the Red Bull's turn. First Perez improves on Albon's time by 71 thousandths of a second. Not long after Max takes first place. He's almost half a second faster than the rest of the field. A couple of minutes later, the fastest time gets even faster. Stroll claims first place, being three-tenths faster than Piastri and Max, who claimed second and third respectively. 

Contest GP China: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results first free practice China:

1Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:36.302 21
2Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:36.629+0.327s24
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:36.660+0.358s25
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:36.690+0.388s24
5Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:37.101+0.799s23
6Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:37.118+0.816s23
7Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:37.213+0.911s23
8Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:37.229+0.927s19
9Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:37.238+0.936s25
10Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:37.530+1.228s24
11Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:37.626+1.324s24
12Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:38.006+1.704s27
13Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:38.090+1.788s20
14Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:38.284+1.982s19
15Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:38.286+1.984s23
16Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:38.630+2.328s21
17George RussellRUSMercedes1:38.806+2.504s21
18Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:38.839+2.537s24
19Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:38.936+2.634s22
20Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:39.276+2.974s21