AHEAD OF LECLERC & RUSSELL
Max Verstappen topped the timesheet in the sole practice ahead of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, with the FIA Formula One World Championship leader beating title rival Charles Leclerc by more than two tenths of a second at the Red Bull Ring.
The opening phase of the one-hour session was largely run on medium compound Pirelli tyres. Red Bull Racing driver Verstappen was quickly into the groove and over a lengthy run the Dutchman worked his way down to an early benchmark of 1m07.496s. Leclerc then took up residency in second place, half a second off Verstappen, but the session was then interrupted by red flags.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was forced to stop in Turn 6. The British driver said smoke was coming from beneath his seat and after pulling over at the side of the track he quickly got out of the car. He would not return to the action and ended the session in 20th place.
With just a single practice session available to teams the before qualifying on F1's second Sprint weekend of 2022, the 10-minute delay caused by Norris’s stoppage and the recovery of his McLaren mean that when the session was restarted there was a rush to get out on track to maximise preparation and both Ferrari reappeared on soft compound Pirellis to complete qualifying simulations.
Carlos Sainz, arriving in Spielberg fresh from his maiden F1 win at Silverstone last weekend, jumped to the top of the order with a lap of 1:07.149 on the red-banded tyres before Leclerc, bounced him out of top spot with a lap of 1:06.650.
Verstappen, just behind on track, was already under Leclerc’s time through the first two sectors and when he crossed the line he was three tenths of a second clear of the Ferrari drive with a lap of 1:06.302.
The session was then interrupted by a second red flag for debris on the track at Turn 6. The halt was shorter than for the Norris incident and when the track went green again, Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull jumped to fourth place. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton then split the Ferraris and moments later the seven-time champion’s team-mate George Russell delivered a lap of 1:06.702 to steal third spot ahead of his team-mate.
Pérez wasn’t done, however, and in the closing moments the Mexican jumped to fourth with a time of 1:06.838. Leclerc also improved in the final moments to close the gap to Verstappen to 0.255s.
Hamilton, who had a late off-track moment in Turn 1, finished fifth ahead of Haas’ Magnussen, Sainz and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. Mick Schumacher in the second took ninth place and the top 10 order was rounded out by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
The session was then interrupted by a second red flag as a rubber strip was spotted lying just off the racing line at the exit of Turn 6, which meant six more minutes were lost as it was retrieved and the cars returned to the pits.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 11:06.302 34 234.454
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 11:06.557 0.255 32 233.556
3 George Russell Mercedes 11:06.702 0.400 32 233.048
4 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 11:06.839 0.537 27 232.570
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 11:06.909 0.607 31 232.327
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 11:06.965 0.663 32 232.133
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 11:07.039 0.737 29 231.876
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 11:07.100 0.798 32 231.666
9 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 11:07.246 0.944 32 231.163
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Red Bull 11:07.296 0.994 33 230.991
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 11:07.431 1.129 26 230.528
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 11:07.462 1.160 27 230.423
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 11:07.476 1.174 29 230.375
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 11:07.522 1.220 27 230.218
15 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 11:07.582 1.280 32 230.013
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Red Bull 11:07.592 1.290 33 229.979
17 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 11:07.743 1.441 25 229.467
18 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 11:07.889 1.587 28 228.973
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 11:08.149 1.847 28 228.100
20 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 11:09.915 3.613 14 222.338