Verstappen heads busy opening practice

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has topped the opening practice session for this weekend’s Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman proved two tenths quicker that Pierre Gasly, with Lewis Hamilton a further two tenths back in third.

A nervous start for Carlos Sainz saw the Ferrari driver report a sticking throttle exiting the pits.

On the pit wall, the team could not spot the issue, the Spaniard electing to carry on.

The opening minutes were dominated by deleted lap times as drivers flirted with the edges of the circuit, especially at Turn 10.

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Verstappen all had laps deleted, along with a raft of others.

Robert Kubica, substituting for Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo Sauber for the opening practice session, had a moment at Turn 3.

The Pole lost the rear end of the car but was able to rejoin without incident.

Sainz also had a spin, though his came exiting Turn 1, stopping in pit exit some 25 minutes into the session.

Verstappen, with a set of medium compound tyres bolted on, set the early running at 1:06.649s.

Having fitted a set of soft tyres, Hamilton then went fastest with a 1:06.390s.

It moved him just 0.1s clear of Verstappen, with Gasly third best, the pair having used the medium tyres for their push laps.

Bottas went faster with a 1:06.386s while Yuki Tsunoda rose to third with a 1:06.486s, both using soft compound rubber.

Gasly then went fastest, 0.1s up on anyone else with a 1:06.166, a time quickly eclipsed by Verstappen with a 1:05.910s.

It left the Dutchman 0.422s clear of third-best Hamilton after 35 minutes.

Running wide at the exit of Turn 4, Sergio Perez touched the gravel on drivers’ left, pitching him into a spin.

The Mexican languished in 13th to that point, his best time just 1:06.696s, almost 0.8s away from his Red Bull team-mate.

It proved a busy session, in part because of a questionable weather forecast which predicts rain for Free Practice 2.

That saw some teams split their programmes, with the likes of Lando Norris at McLaren focussing on long runs rather than outright performance.

As a result, he sat 16th best with a 1:06.861s his best, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was 12th with a 1:06.669s.

The pair were among the busiest in the session, racking up 70 laps between them.

At the chequered flag, none could match Verstappen’s time from the middle of the session, Gasly closest from the two Mercedes drivers.

A second 60-minute session is to follow, starting at 23:00 AEST.

Results: Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff Laps
1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:05.910 34
2 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:06.166 +0.256s 32
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:06.332 +0.422s 32
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:06.386 +0.476s 33
5 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:06.397 +0.487s 36
6 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 1:06.519 +0.609s 35
7 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:06.551 +0.641s 35
8 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:06.584 +0.674s 32
9 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:06.614 +0.704s 29
10 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:06.629 +0.719s 35
11 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:06.630 +0.720s 33
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:06.669 +0.759s 38
13 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:06.696 +0.786s 33
14 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:06.708 +0.798s 32
15 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.848 +0.938s 31
16 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:06.861 +0.951s 35
17 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:07.180 +1.270s 30
18 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 1:07.473 +1.563s 29
19 88 Robert Kubica ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:07.823 +1.913s 30
20 9 Nikita Mazepin HAAS FERRARI 1:08.081 +2.171s 31

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