FP1: Verstappen heads Leclerc in opening practice in Austin

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F1 Grand Prix, GP USA, Circuit of The Americasus

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen set the benchmark in the sole practice session at the United States Grand Prix with Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton ending up second and third fastest respectively. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 1.

After the unusually tough Qatar Grand Prix, the F1 field headed over the Atlantic for another triple-header sequence, kicking off with the United States Grand Prix. With this weekend featuring another sprint format, drivers had only a single one-hour session to dial in the setup of their cars, making the session crticial.

Max Verstappen made the best of his session, finishing the practice atop the leaderboard with a time of 1m35.912s. The Dutchman used Pirelli's Hard tyre for his first two stints before switching to the softs for his qualifying simulation run. His team-mate Sergio Perez, who has been under immense pressure due to his severe lack of pace in the past months, took fourth.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz spent the first half of the session in the second half of the field before jumping up the order on the soft tyres. The Monegasque finished just under two tenths of a second behind Verstappen while the Spaniard posted the eighth fastest lap time.

Lewis Hamilton was third-quickest and got within 0.281s of Verstappen’s benchmark in his upgraded Mercedes, which is sporting a modified floor for the Austin weekend. The Briton had been quickest in first and second sector before his lap got affected by traffic. His team mate George Russell put his upgraded Mercedes W14 in P6.

Alongside Red Bull and Williams, Haas are another team with a one-off livery this weekend. Moreover, the American team also brought major upgrades to Austin and Kevin Magnussen impressed many as he went fifth. His team mate Nico Hulkenberg took an impressive P7, albeit it is worth noting their results might be misleading as they have displayed strong pace in the first practice session on sprint weekend.

Williams became the first outfit to send their drivers out on the red-walled Pirelli tyres. Alex Albon quickly went fastest, but he tumbled down the order as top drivers also joined the track on softs. However, he ended up seventh fastest which is an encouraging result after the Grove-based team's struggles in Lusail.

Home hero Logan Sargeant took P11 for Williams, slotting in between the Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

After missing five races with a broken hand, Daniel Ricciardo impressively got within a tenth of AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda and took 14th in his first session back.

Fernando Alonso tried out a new floor on his Aston Martin, and he concentrated only on the hard compound which led to a lowly P18 in the end. His team mate Lance Stroll was forced to pit with brake issues on his fourth lap, and he was unable to rejoin the track which means that he will head into the curcial qualifying session without any meaningful running.

McLaren's Lando Norris kicked off his session strongly, posting top times on the mediums. However, the Briton and his team mate Oscar Piastri did not use soft tyres and the former took 15th, with the latter finished the session down in 19th.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:35.91223
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:36.068+0.156s24
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:36.193+0.281s23
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:36.212+0.300s23
520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:36.472+0.560s21
663George RussellMercedes1:36.474+0.562s24
723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:36.492+0.580s20
855Carlos SainzFerrari1:36.533+0.621s23
927Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:36.702+0.790s21
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:36.705+0.793s21
112Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:36.987+1.075s26
1231Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:37.066+1.154s22
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:37.104+1.192s25
143Daniel RicciardoAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:37.152+1.240s24
154Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:37.256+1.344s21
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:37.418+1.506s25
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:37.517+1.605s24
1814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:37.840+1.928s19
1981Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:38.420+2.508s22
2018Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:39.940+4.028s5