Verstappen heads Leclerc in Austrian GP first practice


Verstappen leads Austrian GP first practice

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen set an impressive pace in opening practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ George Russell at the Red Bull Ring.

As it’s a Sprint weekend, FP1 took on increased importance in Austria as it was the only 60 minutes of track time the teams would get to set up their cars and prepare for the weekend, with qualifying taking place later in the afternoon at 1700 local time.

Verstappen clocked a 1m 06.302s on the softs, 0.348s clear of Leclerc with Russell half a tenth back, before the Red Bull driver turned his attention to long runs on the softest tyres to gather data for Saturday’s Sprint.

Verstappen Austrian GP
Verstappen Austrian GP

Lewis Hamilton made it two Mercedes in the top four, at a venue where the Silver Arrows tend to struggle, with Kevin Magnussen an impressive fifth for Haas, the American team having run well on the fast, 10-corner Austrian track.


1  Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:06.302
2  Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.255s
3  George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.400s
4  Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.537s
5  Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.607s

Carlos Sainz, winner last time out at Silverstone, was sixth for Ferrari ahead of his countryman Fernando Alonso in the Alpine and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, with Haas’s Mick Schumacher and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda completing the top 10.

It was a miserable day for McLaren, with Lando Norris stopping out on track to bring out the first of two red flags (the second was to allow time to recover some debris) and leave him propping up the timesheets. His team mate Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t happy with the car and was a lowly 17th.

Lance Stroll was 11th for Aston Martin, a fraction ahead of Esteban Ocon (who like his Alpine team mate Alonso did all his running on the medium tyres) with Sebastian Vettel 13th in the second Aston Martin.

Valtteri Bottas faces an uphill battle this weekend with his Alfa Romeo team opting to change a suite of engine components that will confine him to the back of the grid.

The Finn was 14th fastest, with team mate Zhou Guanyu, who was passed fit for this weekend after his big crash at Silverstone, 18th.

Alex Albon, running the full Williams update package, was 14th, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, with Nicholas Latifi 19th in the sister Williams.

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