FP1: Verstappen leads Ferraris in opening Austrian GP practice – with Hamilton in P7
Max Verstappen picked up right where he left off after victory in the Styrian Grand Prix by topping Free Practice 1 for this weekend's Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, ahead of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton could only finish seventh in the opening session.
FP1 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.
Red Bull began on softs and switched to the prototypes, on which Verstappen set the benchmark of 1m 05.5s in the first half of the session, before improving on softs to 1m 05.143s with 25 minutes remaining.
Just under three-tenths back were the Ferraris: Charles Leclerc in P2 and Carlos Sainz in third, while Valtteri Bottas took P4 for Mercedes.
FORMULA 1 BWT GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2021
Practice 1 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:05.143|
|2 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.266s|
|3 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||+0.288s|
|4 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.302s|
|5 Yuki Tsunoda TSU AlphaTauri||+0.331s|
AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda took fifth despite a trip into the gravel at Turn 5, finishing ahead of Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton improved to seventh late on, a tenth of a second behind Raikkonen and ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez (P8), who set exactly the same time as ninth-place Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri.
McLaren's Lando Norris rounded out the top 10 while team mate Daniel Ricciardo finished 12th, with the Alpine of Esteban Ocon between them.
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.
Between them was the other Alpine of Formula 2 Championship leader Guanyu Zhou, standing in for Fernando Alonso to make his FP1 debut. Zhou and Stroll were the only two drivers to set their benchmarks on mediums, the rest having done so on softs.
Ferrari test and reserve driver Callum Ilott stood in for Antonio Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo and finished behind Vettel in 16th, ahead of 2020 F2 rival (and champion) Mick Schumacher in 17th for Haas.
Roy Nissany was Williams’ young stand-in for FP1, the Israeli driver finishing a solid P18 ahead of team mate Nicholas Latifi. In last place was Nikita Mazepin of Haas.
Red Bull may have fired the opening salvo here in Austria but there's plenty more to come, with FP2 at 1500 local time today. Stay tuned for live coverage and all the reaction in between and beyond the sessions.