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FP1: Verstappen bounces back from stoppage to lead Piastri in Austrian GP practice

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen topped the timesheets during Friday’s sole practice session ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, overcoming a mid-session problem that saw him stop out on track to lead the way from McLaren rival Oscar Piastri and the two Ferraris.

With the Sprint format in play for the third time this season, following on from China and Miami, drivers and teams had just one hour to get reacclimatised to the Red Bull Ring and attempt to put their cars in a suitable window for Sprint Qualifying.

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It meant plenty of running on the three tyre compounds chosen by Pirelli for this weekend – the white-marked C3 hard, the yellow-marked C4 medium and the red-marked C5 soft that make up the most aggressive combination from their 2024 range.

Aiming to build on their recent improvements, Mercedes hit the ground running to set the early pace with hard-shod efforts from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, while the medium-shod Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez slotted behind them.

Austria 2024

Practice 1 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1VER1:05.685
2PIA+0.276s
3LEC+0.37s
4SAI+0.443s
5HAM+0.569s
View Full Results

However, at the halfway mark of the session, Verstappen dramatically ground to a halt along the start/finish straight with an “engine fault”, bringing out the red flags and initially raising some questions after he moved onto his fourth power unit last time out in Spain.

Then, after his car rolled back down the hill and was moved to the pit lane, Red Bull managed to hit the reset button and send Verstappen back out, meaning the reigning world champion could rack up more mileage and avoid entering Sprint Qualifying lacking data.

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The final 10 minutes of the session brought a flurry of laps on soft tyres, after which Verstappen set the standard on a 1m 05.685s, a couple of tenths up on Piastri, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz following in P3 and P4 for Ferrari.

Mercedes dropped down the timesheets, but Hamilton went against the majority of his rivals by sticking with hards, rather than moving to softs, while Russell hit traffic through the middle sector – leaving the pair fifth and eighth respectively.

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 28: Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on

Drivers had just one hour of practice available to find the limit before Sprint Qualifying

Esteban Ocon led the Alpine charge in sixth position after some encouraging weekends for the Enstone operation, slotting ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, the aforementioned Russell and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, who battled steering column woes throughout the session.

Fernando Alonso made it two Aston Martins in the top-10 places, with the other Alpine and Red Bull machines of Pierre Gasly and Perez next up in 11th and 12th, and Lando Norris only 13th in his McLaren after a promising late lap on softs was undone by a trip through the Turn 4 gravel.

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Kick Sauber pair Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas took P14 and P15, from the RB of Daniel Ricciardo, and the Haas and Williams cars of Nico Hulkenberg, Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant.

Drivers and teams will now regroup in the paddock and get set for the afternoon’s Sprint Qualifying session, which is set to get under way at 1630 local time. Head to the RACE HUB to find out how you can follow the action.

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