FP1: Verstappen edges Ferrari duo to lead the Austrian GP opening session

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Just a few days after his win at the Styrian Grand Prix, Red Bull's Max Verstappen continued where he left off by topping Free Practice 1 for this weekend's Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring.

Although the field has plenty of data from last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix which took place on the very same venue as this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, the opening practice session was far from boring.

The double-header on the same location allowed some teams to provide their young drivers with driving opportunities in the current car at a race weekend. Of the three test drivers, Guanyu Zhou ended up in the highest position with the Chinese driver taking over the Alpine’s 2021 car from Fernando Alonso. The 22-year-old, who currently sits on top of the drivers’ standing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, made his debut at a race weekend, setting the 14th fastest time with a 1m06.414s.

Ferrari junior driver Callum Ilott stepped in to drive Antonio Giovinazzi’s car in FP1. The British driver clocked in a 1m06.564s to set the 16th fastest lap. After driving the FW43B at Paul Ricard just a few weeks ago, Roy Nissany was back behind the wheel of Williams’ 2021 car. The F2 driver ended up in P18 with his best lap time three tenths of a second faster than Nicholas Latifi’s benchmark.

For the majority of the field, the opening practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix also served as a testing ground as Pirelli brought a new, even more robust, specification of rear tyre here with a view to running the new construction at Silverstone in two weeks' time. Teams have been supplied with two sets of the new tyres available for use in either Friday practice session.

Championship leader Max Verstappen finished the first session on the top of the table with a time of 1m05.143 which he posted on PirellI’s softest compound, the C5 rubber. The Dutchman also ran the test tyre and reported no issues on the new construction, claiming that the balance of his RB16B was appropriate. The 23-year-old racked up a total of 36 laps which was the highest mileage of any driver in FP1.

While Ferrari’s SF21 was extremely quick in race trim last Sunday, both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had problems on a single hot lap. The Ferrari duo ended up second and third in the table which indicated that they were putting more effort into squeezing the one-lap performance out of their 2021 machinery.

Mercedes had a low-key session, but both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton seemed to have a promising pace. The Anglo-German team’s duo completed a long run on PirellI’s test tyre on heavy fuel load in the opening stages of the session, recording eye-catching lap times.

Thereafter, they concentrated on the soft compound with Bottas ending up 4th and Hamilton clocking in the 7th fastest time, but their top speeds and Sector 1 time indicated that they have a lot more in reserve for the remainder of the weekend.

Elsewehere, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had a session punctuated by incidents, as he had an off at Turn 6 after 10 minutes and then spun at the final corner after 30 minutes – avoiding the barriers both times – to finish 13th, while team mate Sebastian Vettel took 15th.


133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:05.143-37
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:05.409+0.266s33
355Carlos SainzFerrari1:05.431+0.288s33
477Valtteri BottasMercedes1:05.445+0.302s31
522Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri Honda1:05.474+0.331s35
67Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:05.586+0.443s28
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:05.709+0.566s32
811Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:05.726+0.583s31
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda1:05.726+0.583s36
104Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes1:05.880+0.737s28
1131Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:05.980+0.837s30
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren Mercedes1:06.181+1.038s31
1318Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:06.203+1.060s30
1437Guanyu ZhouAlpine Renault1:06.414+1.271s29
155Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:06.444+1.301s28
1698Callum IlottAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:06.564+1.421s23
1747Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:06.583+1.440s29
1845Roy NissanyWilliams Mercedes1:06.683+1.540s34
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:06.978+1.835s36
209Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:07.316+2.173s30