Hamilton heads F1 practice in Turkey

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has ended the opening practice session fastest ahead of this weekend’s Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix.

The 60-minute hit out unfolded without interruption, Hamilton a comfortable 0.4s clear of the pack as the chequered flag fell.

Max Verstappen was second best, narrowly faster than Charles Leclerc at the head of a tight group that ran down the seventh-best Esteban Ocon.

For the most part, teams headed out as soon as the session began in an effort to gain data on the Istanbul Park circuit.

Williams and Red Bull were the exceptions as a mixture of hard, medium, and soft rubber was in use, Ocon setting the early pace on the white-walled rubber with a 1:29.171s.

That quickly became a 1:27.439s for Hamilton, a time faster than any lap set in the same session a year ago.

Early reports from the drivers was that track grip was high, a significant change on conditions experienced in 2020.

The marker then became a 1:26.991s when Verstappen, also on a set of soft tyres, completed his first flying lap.

Lando Norris and then Hamilton soon improved, the benchmark edging down to 1:26.043 for the championship leader, 0.4s clear of the McLaren.

After 25 minutes Mercedes remained in control, Hamilton having recorded a 1:24.511s.

Ocon was second best, 0.3s away with Valtteri Bottas third, 0.8s down on his team-mate with Fernando Alonso fourth in the second Alpine.

Halfway through the 60-minute outing the pace dropped to 1:24.250s, Hamilton pushing his advantage out to more than half a second.

Soon after, Verstappen improved from fifth best to third, his 1:25.055s still almost a second adrift of Hamilton’s best.

At AlphaTauri, Yuki Tsunoda spent a long spell out of his car as mechanics worked on the AT02.

The Japanese driver sat 14th at the time, his best 1:26.502s some 0.6s off the pace of Pierre Gasly in the sister car.

On track, times continued to tumble, Hamilton edging further and further ahead with Bottas shadowing his team leader.

With 25 minutes to run the best lap was 1 :24.178s, 0.8s clear of Verstappen who’d by then slipped back to fifth fastest as he battled with a lack of front grip.

The Red Bull driver soon improved, logging a 1:24.603s to move up to second fastest, 0.4s away from Hamilton’s best.

Track limits were a factor throughout the session, most notably at Turn 6 and Turn 14 where the white line, and not the kerb, delineates the edge of the racing surface.

A host of drivers had lap times deleted as a result, including Leclerc, Alonso, Carlos Sainz, and Kimi Raikkonen among others.

Turn 8, meanwhile, was not posing much of a problem, with a number able to attack the quad-apex left-hander at full throttle.

Ferrari showed promising pace in the latter part of the session, Leclerc rising to third on his second flying lap with a time almost identical to that of Verstappen’s.

From there, times failed to improve as the field banked laps in the final 15 minutes of the session.

It left Hamilton on top ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas, Sainz, and Ocon, the quintet split by 0.3s.

Free Practice 2 follows at 23:00 AEDT this evening.

Results: Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix, Free Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.178 25
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:24.603 +0.425s 23
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:24.654 +0.476s 26
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:24.842 +0.664s 27
5 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:24.860 +0.682s 24
6 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:24.909 +0.731s 29
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:25.347 +1.169s 25
8 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:25.382 +1.204s 29
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:25.383 +1.205s 25
10 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:25.459 +1.281s 23
11 63 George Russell Williams 1:25.685 +1.507s 24
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:25.750 +1.572s 25
13 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:25.810 +1.632s 25
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:25.813 +1.635s 23
15 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:25.863 +1.685s 27
16 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:25.933 +1.755s 23
17 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:26.361 +2.183s 28
18 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:26.424 +2.246s 27
19 47 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:26.636 +2.458s 24
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:27.019 +2.841s 27

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