The first ever Qatar Grand Prix weekend got underway with Championship leader Max Verstappen going fastest in the first practice session at Losail International Circuit. Pierre Gasly ended up second and ahead of both Mercedes.
With Verstappen fastest amidst off-track excursions for many drivers, AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was an impressive second fastest, little more than 4 tenths of a second slower than the Red Bull Racing driver.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest for Mercedes. The Finn came very close to Gasly's best lap and was 3 tenths up on his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The latter complained of being underpowered throughout the session and eventually briefly ended up in the pitlane 10 minutes from the end with a "probable car issue", though he quickly rejoined later on. Of course, none of the cars were using full power in first practice, and it is also unclear which of their three available engines they are running.
To underline AlpaTauri's pace, Yuki Tsunoda was 5th fastest, topping the Ferrari pairing of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in P6 and P7. The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez had to be content with 8th, ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon.
In the middle of the pack were the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. It is thought the Losail track should suit the MCL35M due to its high speed corners, but it has not emerged as such yet. Norris overcame a power loss mid-session but apart from that seemed to a fairly trouble free session.
Further back is Sebastian Vettel in 12th, followed by a surprise outing for Nicholas Latifi in 13th. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen followed up for Alfa Romeo in 14th and 15th as Russell sandwiched the Alfas in 16th position.
As Alonso had a low-key session to end up 17th, it was worse even for Lance Stroll as he was limited to just 11 laps. First he was delayed with an apparent brake-by-wire issue while the team later on communicated the Canadian's session had come to an early end due to a hydraulic problem.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:23.723||22|
|2||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:24.160||+0.437s||28|
|5||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:24.648||+0.925s||27|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:24.915||+1.192s||22|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:24.972||+1.249s||23|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:25.215||+1.492s||19|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:25.291||+1.568s||24|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:25.328||+1.605s||19|
|13||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:25.688||+1.965s||24|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:25.757||+2.034s||23|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:25.828||+2.105s||25|
|16||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:25.871||+2.148s||24|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:25.905||+2.182s||21|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:26.699||+2.976s||21|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:26.712||+2.989s||11|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:27.500||+3.777s||16|