Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc started a string of traditional European Grand Prix weekends on top, narrowly edging out his team mate and Spanish home driver Carlos Sainz around Circuit de Catalunya.
First practice in Spain always means a bit more for teams, as it's typically a venue where cars are given their first major upgrades of the season. This year was no different, so many teams initially focused on getting some data in about their new packages, leading to some drivers just lapping at moderate speeds without pushing to find improvements.
Times dropped quickly after Verstappen set an early benchmark on hard tyres and it was Leclerc who recorded the quickest lap on softs past the halfway mark.
With the usual top three in place, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton appeared to unveil some signs of improvement at Mercedes. They both seemed to suffer less from porpoising, resulting in 4th and 6th respectively. Therefore, the Mercedes duo sandwiched home hero Fernando Alonso in the Alpine.
Lando Norris was also at work trying new parts for McLaren, eventually going 7th quickest, ahead of Pierre Gasly. The latter drove an AlphaTauri with reduced paint covering to shed weight, combined with a new higher downforce rear wing.
Daniel Ricciardo put the second McLaren in 9th place and topped Tsunoda as the Japanese rounded the top 10.
Esteban Ocon struggled with front end grip on his Alpine and didn't make it into the Top 10. Lance Stroll was 12th for Aston Martin as the green team was busy evaluating their completely new sidepod designs that feature tilted radiators and a sloping upper section of the sidepod bodywork, much resembling the philosophy of Red Bull and thereby completely ditching the approach they had taken before.
For this "test", Alfa Romeo fielded reserve driver Robert Kubica instead of Guanyu Zhou. At Williams, Albon was replaced by Formula E driver and Mercedes reserve Nyck De Vries as Yuri Vips drove the Red Bull instead of Sergio Perez. All three had to focus on evaluating car performance and didn't really get a taste of the true potential of their cars.
Running continues later today with second practice.
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:20.164||+0.336s||28|
|5||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:20.768||+0.940s||24|
|7||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:21.279||+1.451s||24|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Rbpt||1:21.422||+1.594s||23|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes||1:21.737||+1.909s||23|
|10||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Rbpt||1:21.814||+1.986s||28|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:21.891||+2.063s||26|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:21.920||+2.092s||23|
|13||88||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:21.975||+2.147s||20|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:22.089||+2.261s||16|
|15||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:22.146||+2.318s||21|
|16||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:22.164||+2.336s||20|
|17||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:22.614||+2.786s||25|
|18||45||Nyck De Vries||Williams Mercedes||1:22.920||+3.092s||28|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:23.011||+3.183s||27|
|20||36||Juri Vips||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:24.138||+4.310s||23|