Formula 1

Verstappen Paces Leclerc in Opening Practice for Austrian Grand Prix

2 Mins read
Credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Max Verstappen edged out the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers in the opening practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday morning.

The Red Bull Racing driver and the current championship leader set a best time of 1:05.143 to pace the session, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. an encouraging second and third fastest respectively for Ferrari.

All teams were given prototype tyres to use in this session by Pirelli, and a lot of running early on was focused on running these tyres, which are set to start being used from the British Grand Prix onwards.

But it was the soft compound tyre that Verstappen used to good effect to take top spot, while main championship rival Lewis Hamilton ended only seventh for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

Valtteri Bottas ended fourth fastest in the other Mercedes, just over three-tenths of a second behind the pace, while Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Yuki Tsunoda was an impressive fifth, two-tenths of a second and four places ahead of his team-mate Pierre Gasly. Tsunoda did have a minor moment after hitting the gravel on the exit of turn four and running through the gravel at turn five.

Another impressive performance came from Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Kimi Räikkönen in sixth, with the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez eighth behind Hamilton.  Gasly and McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris completed the top ten.

Esteban Ocon missed out on the top ten for the Alpine F1 Team by a tenth of a second, with the Frenchman finishing just ahead of the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, while Lance Stroll ended thirteenth despite suffering two spins in his Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team AMR21.

Stroll’s first adventure saw him clip the gravel at turn six and spin onto the grass on the other side of the track, while his second spin was at the final turn where he was lucky to avoid the barrier.  He was still able to better his team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the session, with the German fifteenth fastest, just behind Alpine’s Guanyu Zhou, who was an impressive fourteenth on his free practice debut as he replaced Fernando Alonso.

Another driver taking part in the session was Callum Ilott, with the Briton in the place of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi for his second run of the season.  Ilott, the 2020 FIA Formula 2 runner-up was sixteenth quickest, just ahead of the man who beat him to the title, Mick Schumacher, of the Uralkali Haas F1 Team.

Roy Nissany, running in place of George Russell at Williams Racing, ended eighteenth quickest, just ahead of team-mate Nicholas Latifi, while Nikita Mazepin brought up the rear in the second Haas.

A lot of drivers had moments during the session, with mistakes at turn one by both Mercedes’ drivers, Norris, Mazepin and both Ferrari’s, while Leclerc also had another moment at turn three.

Red Bull Ring Free Practice 1 Times

133Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing1:05.143 37
216Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:05.409+0.26633
355Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari1:05.431+0.28833
477Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula  One Team1:05.445+0.30231
522Yuki TsunodaJAPScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:05.474+0.33135
67Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:05.586+0.44328
744Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula  One Team1:05.709+0.56632
811Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing1:05.726+0.58331
910Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:05.726+0.58336
104Lando NorrisITAMcLaren F1 Team1:05.880+0.73728
1131Esteban OconFRAAlpine F1 Team1:05.980+0.83730
123Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:06.181+1.03831
1318Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:06.203+1.06030
14Guanyu ZhouCHNAlpine F1 Team1:06.414+1.27129
155Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:06.444+1.30128
16Callum IlottGBRAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:06.564+1.42123
1747Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1:06.583+1.44029
1845Roy NissanyISRWilliams Racing1:06.683+1.54034
196Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:06.978+1.83536
209Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team1:07.316+2.17330
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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