Verstappen starts fast in Styrian GP practice

Zak Mauger/Motorsport Images

Verstappen starts fast in Styrian GP practice

Formula 1

Verstappen starts fast in Styrian GP practice

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Max Verstappen opened the Austrian doubleheader with the quickest time of first practice for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, winner of last weekend’s French Grand Prix, took his Red Bull Racing car to the top of the time sheet with a time of 1m05.910s. Pierre Gasly made the session a Red Bull-back 1-2, albeit with the sister AlphaTauri car, 0.256s further back.

Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas followed, the pair closely matched at around 0.45s off the leading Dutchman’s pace.

There was more pace in the Black Arrows than the stopwatch suggested, however. Bottas was half a tenth quicker than Verstappen in each of the first two sectors before running wide and Turn 10 and abandoning his lap, his first on fresh soft tires, when he was otherwise sure to top the session.

Track limits were a busy source of work for the stewards, with several times deleted for transgressions at Turns 9 and 10, the only parts of the circuit monitored at this track.

Mercedes and Red Bull Racing in particular will have been pleased to see the yellow “baguette” curbs, which both teams complained were too damaging to their cars at Circuit Paul Ricard last weekend, have been removed from the exits of both corners owing to the speeds reached in the final sector of the track.

The session featured plenty of on-track action, with all bar Antonio Giovinazzi completing at least 30 laps, owing to the weather forecast. Thunderstorms have been forecast for all three days of the Styrian Grand Prix, and though the rain stayed away for first practice, the official race forecast is for likely showers in the afternoon session, which is ordinarily when teams undertake their race simulations. Team therefore attempted to cram some of FP2’s run plan into the single hour of FP1 to guard against a washout.

Yuki Tsunoda put in a clean session for fifth for AlphaTauri, the Japanese rookie only a hundredth slower than Bottas. Alpine duo Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon followed at 0.6s off the pace.

Lance Stroll opened Aston Martin’s weekend strongly with eighth ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were 10th and 11th, though the Spaniard endured a scrappy hour. He locked up on his first lap with what he was concerned was a sticking throttle, though he was able to continue without pitting, and later in the session spun exiting the first corner and got stuck in neutral in pit exit. He was regardless close to Leclerc, the two 0.72s adrift.

Daniel Ricciardo set a session-topping 38 laps for McLaren in 12th to get ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez, whose best lap was compromised by traffic and who later spun his car through Turn 4.

Sebastian Vettel followed for Aston Martin in 14th ahead of George Russell, Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi.

Mick Schumacher was 18th for Haas ahead of Robert Kubica, the Pole commandeering Kimi Raikkonen’s car for the hour, with Nikita Mazepin last.

 

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