Formula 1: Verstappen third at the start of training in China

Formula 1: Verstappen third at the start of training in China

Lance Stroll is the fastest. But his teammate Fernando Alonso was only second to last. World champion Max Verstappen starts third. A small fire provides an interruption.

Max Verstappen missed the best time in the only free practice session on Formula 1’s return to China. The three-time world champion, who is still missing a race win at the Shanghai International Circuit, took third place in his Red Bull in a busy one-hour session. “We have to improve significantly if we want to be up there,” said Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko on Sky.

Canadian Lance Stroll was fastest in an Aston Martin and Australian Oscar Piastri was second in a McLaren. Nico Hülkenberg in the Haas was the only regular German driver to finish fifth.

However, the significance of the rankings is rather low; Stroll’s Spanish teammate Fernando Alonso, for example, did not get past the penultimate place. The two Ferrari drivers, Carlos Sainz from Spain and Charles Leclerc from Monaco, also only finished 14th and 13th. Record world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has already won six times in China, only finished 17th in the Mercedes.

First time racing short version in 2024

Almost all drivers completed 20 or more laps; they made particular use of the session as qualification for the sprint race took place just a few hours later and there was no further training. The short racing version over 100 kilometers is taking place for the first time this year; the sprint will take place on Saturday. The first Chinese Grand Prix in five years will take place on Sunday (9 a.m. CEST/Sky).

A small fire on a meadow next to the track caused a short interruption on Friday. Emergency services were able to quickly extinguish it, leaving a black spot on the dry green.

The premier class of motorsport is back on the circuit for the first time since 2019. After the racing premiere in China in 2004, the corona pandemic and the strict requirements of the Chinese government’s zero-Covid strategy prevented the starts in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Source: Stern

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