Verstappen on form in opening Austrian F1 practice

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has carried on where he left of in last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix by topping the opening practice session for this weekend’s Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was more than two tenths faster than Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz while Lewis Hamilton could do no better than seventh, 0.5s away from his title rival in the first 60-minute practice hit out.

Prototype tyres featured during the session, prompting most to head out on track on the unmarked Pirelli rubber.

Ferrari opted to send both its drivers out on the hard compound tyres, while Red Bull had Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez using the softs.

Compounds are a step softer than were used last weekend; the soft from the Styrian Grand Prix the medium this time around.

Sitting out of the session were Fernando Alonso, George Russell, and Antonio Giovinazzi, replaced by Guanyu Zhou, Roy Nissany, and Callum Ilott respectively.

After a predictable start to the session, with exploratory laps, Yuki Tsunoda bounced his way through the gravel at Turn 4.

Snap oversteer saw the Japanese driver correct the slide, spearing off the road before rejoining and carrying on.

As it had proved last weekend, track limits were again a constant issue, with Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and a raft of others running wide at Turn 10, the final corner.

After starting with a different run plan to most, Red Bull switched its drivers onto the prototype tyres after 10 minutes.

On those tyres, Lance Stroll had a spin in the Aston Martin, finding the grass inside Turn 7 after losing control on the exit of the preceding corner.

The Canadian dropped his right-rear onto the gravel, which saw him skating down the grass on drivers’ left and lucky not to autograph to the barrier.

He had another off at Turn 10 a few minutes later, coming to rest pointing the wrong way.

The rear end got away from the 22-year-old as he looked to start a push lap, flat spotting the soft compound rubber fitted to the car.

To that point, Verstappen was the fastest on track, having recorded a 1:05.558s lap to head Pierre Gasly and Hamilton.

He improved that to a 1:05.143s with 26 minutes remaining, regaining top spot after Tsunoda had briefly headed the running with a 1:05.474s.

And there he stayed for the duration as teams worked through their own individual programmes.

That saw Valtteri Bottas head out with flow-viz paint on the underside of his Mercedes, while Hamilton had it splashed across the bargeboards on his W12.

The Ferrari pairing of Leclerc and Sainz rose to second and third with near identical times late in the session, 1:05.409s and 1:05.431s respectively.

Meanwhile constructors’ championship rivals McLaren had its drivers sitting just 10th and 11th, Lando Norris ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Those two were split by 0.3s, Norris’ 1:05.895s leaving him 0.7s away from the outright pace and 0.5s away from Leclerc.

The session ended with Verstappen fastest from the two Ferraris, then Bottas, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, and Hamilton in seventh.

Ricciardo was demoted to 12th fastest courtesy of a 1:05.980s from Esteban Ocon, the Australian remaining 0.3s away from his McLaren team-mate.

Zhou was 14th fastest, 0.4s away from Ocon in the other Alpine, a sound performance in his first F1 race weekend appearance.

Results: Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff Laps
1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:05.143 37
2 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:05.409 +0.266s 33
3 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:05.431 +0.288s 33
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:05.445 +0.302s 31
5 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:05.474 +0.331s 35
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:05.586 +0.443s 28
7 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:05.709 +0.566s 32
8 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:05.726 +0.583s 31
9 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:05.726 +0.583s 36
10 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:05.880 +0.737s 28
11 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:05.980 +0.837s 30
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:06.181 +1.038s 31
13 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:06.203 +1.060s 30
14 37 Guanyu Zhou ALPINE RENAULT 1:06.414 +1.271s 29
15 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:06.444 +1.301s 28
16 98 Callum Ilott ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:06.564 +1.421s 23
17 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 1:06.583 +1.440s 29
18 45 Roy Nissany WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.683 +1.540s 34
19 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.978 +1.835s 36
20 9 Nikita Mazepin HAAS FERRARI 1:07.316 +2.173s 30

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