Grass Fire Interrupts Chinese Grand Prix Practice Session, Stroll Leads Running

Updated On Apr 19, 2024 by Landon Wheeler

Grass fire at Chinese Grand Prix Practise session 2024Summary:

  • Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll finished the only Chinese GP practice session in first position.
  • He was followed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
  • A small grass fire briefly disrupted the running.

After a five-year hiatus, the iconic Shanghai International Circuit is once again hosting the fastest F1 cars in the world ahead of the Formula 1 Lenovo Chinese Grand Prix 2024.

The competition, which is the first post-COVID-19 F1 event in China, will take place on April 21 over the 56 laps of the 5.451-km circuit.

The much-anticipated practice session, which was also the only scheduled practice prior to the first Sprint Qualifying weekend, was briefly interrupted by a bizarre fire and led by Lance Stroll.

Lance Stroll Leading the Practice Race

The teams embraced differing approaches to the practice hour, testing out various tyre and fuel load strategies

World champion Max Verstappen was in the lead for most of the session for Red Bull, on both medium and soft tyres.

He was eventually overhauled in the closing minutes by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Aston Martin’s Stroll who set an unexpected pace in the intriguing session that was abruptly interrupted by a strange grass fire.

His fastest time of 1:36.302 made him 0.327s faster than Piastri’s while Red Bull’s Verstappen recorded a further 0.021s adrift.

Sergio Perez finished fourth in the second Red Bull.

Ferrari, which is Red Bull’s closest challenger this season, ran the soft tyres early in the session and ended up slipping out of the top 10.

Mercedes led by the departing Lewis Hamilton were the only team that chose not to run the soft or the medium compound.

Unexpected Grass Fire

The Shanghai track’s surface appearance took both drivers and teams by surprise during the circuit walks on Thursday.

While some believed the surface featured sections covered in dark paint, it turned out that the respective patches were, in fact, a bitumen treatment meant to prevent disintegration while eliminating dust.

The grass on the inside of Turn Seven caught on fire just 15 minutes into the running session, immediately causing the Race Control to throw the red flag and ask the cars to go back to the pit lane and enable the marshals to put the fire out.


The issue was quickly fixed, leaving behind a scorched section of grass left.

The incident might have been caused by a spark generated by a titanium skid-block on the underside of a car when it hit the ground through the high-speed section.

The dry and windy conditions in Shanghai following rain earlier in the week could have also contributed to the problem.

The Sprint Qualifying has been scheduled for 8.30 am on Friday, setting the grid for the 19-lap Sprint race that will unfold at 4 am on Saturday.

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