McLaren’s Lando Norris tops Australian Grand Prix FP1

McLaren’s Lando Norris tops Australian Grand Prix FP1

AHEAD OF VERSTAPPEN AS ALBON BRINGS OUT RED FLAGS

McLaren’s Lando Norris topped the timesheet in opening practice for this weekend’s FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just under two hundredths of a second, but the session was interrupted when Williams’ Alex Albon crashed heavily. 

 

The opening phase of the session was dominated by Soft-tyre runners with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the Red Bull’s pair of Verstappen and Sergio Pérez all bolting on the red-walled C5 Pirelli compound, which is making its first appearance of the season at this event. 

 

Leclerc set the benchmark at 1:19.110 as the clock hit the 15-minute mark but Verstappen went almost half a second quicker to establish a new best time of 1:18.670 as the first third elapsed. 

 

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda then put in a good lap on C4 Mediums to split the front pair and then just before the halfway point Norris bolted on Softs for the first time and jumped to the top of the order with a lap of 1:18.564.

 

As the second half began the field gradually began to switch to the Soft compound. Lance Stroll took his Aston to second place, while Leclerc, who took a second set of C5s, posted a lap of 1:18.599 to sit just 0.035s behind Norris. 

 

However, with less than 20 minutes left on the clock, running was halted when Albon crashed. The Williams driver took too much kerb on the inside of Turn 7 causing the rear of his FW44 to snap out wildly and the Thai driver was flung hard into the wall before bouncing back across the track to hit the opposite wall. 

 

Albon quickly reported himself to be “OK”, but with debris from the twin impacts strewn down the long run through Turn 8, a long clean-up period meant that running resumed with nine minutes left in the session. 

 

The bulk of the field then returned to the action, though on cold tyres in relatively cool Melbourne temperatures there were a number of nervous moments, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton sliding off at Turn 1 and Norris and Pérez both sliding wide at the penultimate corner. 

 

Verstappen also has a moment, going off in Turn 10 just as he looked on course to clamber up the timesheet once more, but the championship leader then went for another attempt and this time a cleaner lap vaulted him to second, just 0.018s off Norris.

 

Mercedes’ George Russell, took third place with his final flying lap, ahead of Tsunoda, Pérez, Stroll, Carlos Sainz, who was back for Ferrari after recovering from surgery for appendicitis, and Hamilton. Home heroes Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo finished in 10th and 11th respectively. 

 

2024 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 
1 Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.564 23 241.851
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:18.582 0.018 19 241.795
3 George Russell Mercedes 1:18.597 0.033 21 241.749
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.599 0.035 22 241.743
5 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:18.621 0.057 26 241.675
6 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 1:18.642 0.078 23 241.611
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:18.667 0.103 26 241.534
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:18.686 0.122 23 241.476
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.771 0.207 20 241.215
10 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:18.918 0.354 25 240.766
11 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:19.274 0.710 25 239.685
12 Alexander Albon Williams 1:19.443 0.879 11 239.175
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:19.489 0.925 21 239.036
14 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:19.519 0.955 22 238.946
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:19.561 0.997 25 238.820
16 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:19.604 1.040 21 238.691
17 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:19.622 1.058 25 238.637
18 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:19.716 1.152 16 238.356
19 Zhou Guanyu Kick Sauber 1:19.989 1.425 23 237.542
20 77 Valtteri Bottas Kick Sauber 1:20.014 1.450 21 237.468
 


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