F1 Chinese GP | FP1 | Stroll leads Piastri and Verstappen as grass catches fire

Photo Credit: Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team
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The Haas of Kevin Magnussen posted the first time of the session as he logged a 1:41.422 on mediums. Home hero Zhou Guanyu was tentative on his first attempt, posting a 1:42.487.

On his first lap, Max Verstappen clocked a 1:39.497, going fastest by over a second from Pierre Gasly.

Unsurprisingly with surface changes and the fact they’ve been way from the Shanghai International Circuit for 5 years, moments happened.

Lewis Hamilton had a snap of oversteer through the never-ending turn 1, with Sergio Perez going deep at turn 11 as he braked too late.

10 minutes in, Verstappen led Perez, Alonso, Ocon, Bottas, Stroll, Guanyu, Magnussen, Hamilton and Gasly. The Dutchman was the fastest medium runner, with Alonso and Ocon the quickest drivers on the hards and softs respectively.

Incredibly, the session had to be halted as some grass briefly caught fire on the inside of turn 7, stopping FP1 for around 3 minutes.

A 1:38.498 from Max Verstappen was the benchmark when the red flag was thrown, 0.068s quicker than teammate Sergio Perez. Nico Hülkenberg impressed in the Haas, 0.382s away from the Dutch driver

Stroll, Alonso, Guanyu, Ocon, Norris, Gasly and Magnussen rounded out the top 10 when the green light was shown to resume the action.

Lewis Hamilton was forced to head down the pit lane as traffic caused a complete mess in the last corner. With Piastri on his inside after almost getting a tangle with Hülkenberg, Hamilton locked up and ended up heading down the pit entry.

The seven-time World Champion got a warning flag for crossing the white line as he headed down the entry.

For Ferrari, Charles Leclerc put himself top of the charts on softs as a 1:38.130 saw him 0.252s ahead of Carlos Sainz. The gap to Verstappen was 0.368s. Perez and Hülkenberg completed the top 5 halfway through.

The Monegasque improved once again a few minutes later, chipping four hundredths off his previous benchmark.

On pit entry, Fernando Alonso locked up and went straight on as the Spaniard went over the limit trying to test out the aggression levels before turning left to head down into the pits. Oscar Piastri repeated it a couple of minutes later, although not as extreme as the Spaniard as he only just missed turning left.

Leclerc led Sainz, Verstappen, Perez, Ocon, Norris, Russell, Hamilton, Hülkenberg and Alonso before the qualifying simulations started with 15 minutes to go.

The first proper hot lap came from Alex Albon with the Thai smashing in 1:37.229 to go quickest by 0.861s. He went purple in every single sector.

Sergio Perez badly compromised his first timed lap, having a big lock-up at turn 6 and going extremely deep. A cracking final sector, however, just allowed him to pip Albon to P1 by just under a tenth.

A 1:36.660 put Max Verstappen almost half a second clear of his teammate following that mistake by Perez.

However, the World Champion was to be beaten. Oscar Piastri pumped in a 1:36.629 to usurp the Dutchman by 0.031s.

It looked like Lando Norris was going to go fastest by a considerable margin, but he boxed at the end of his lap as he was almost half a second up through the first 2 sectors.

But ultimately it was Lance Stroll who ended fastest in the session. A purple middle sector saw the Canadian put in a 1:36.302 to put him 0.327s clear of Piastri.

Verstappen, Perez, Hülkenberg, Magnussen, Ocon, Albon, Ricciardo and Bottas completed the top 10.

Guanyu, Tsunoda, Leclerc, Sainz, Sargeant, Norris, Russell, Hamilton, Alonso and Gasly filled the second half of the timesheets.

The Mercedes’ and Alonso did not run any laps on the soft. Sainz and Leclerc only ran on a single set of soft tyres in the session and did their best laps well before the end.