Max Verstappen set the quickest lap of opening practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz by almost three tenths of a seconds as Formula 1’s second weekend in a row at the Red Bull Ring got underway.
The opening part of the session saw the majority of drivers testing Pireli’s prototype rear tyres compound which has been offered for testing this weekend. The new tyre features a stiffer rear sidewall and is expected to be in use at the British Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
When this weekends’s compounds were put to use Red Bull’s Sergio Perez led the way with a lap of 1:06.752 on this weekend’s C5 soft compound, a step softer than last week. Verstappen then took over with a lap of 1:06.640, which he then lowered to 1:06.007.
The championship leader, who won last weekend’s Styria Grand Prix, then tried the test tyres and set a new benchmark of 1:05.558. just before the first quarter of the session was completed.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas then reappeared on regular rubber and Hamilton swiftly moved to third place. His time on the soft tyres was not straightforward, however, and hampered by traffic and small mistakes he could eventally only manage the morning’s seventh quickest time, more than half a second off Verstappen’s best of 1:05.143 set on softs.
The Red Bull driver was followed by Leclerc and Sainz with the Monegasque driver posting a best time of 1:05.409s, 0.266s behind Verstappen and 0.022s ahead of Sainz.
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas finished fourth at the flag thanks to a late soft tyre run of 1:05.445s. Yuki Tsunoda took fifth place for AlphaTauri despite going off into the gravel at Turn early in the session. Kimi Raikkonen took sixth for Alfa, while Sergio Perez, Gasly and Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll also suffered spins, the most lurid of which came at Turn 6 after he drifted to far right on exit and found the edge of the gravel trap. That pitched him into a spin and he spun across the track and down the hill on the inside. Later he went off at the exit of Turn 10. He would go on to finish 13th.
Three reserve drivers were in action during the opening session with Guanyu Zhou finished in 14th place in the Alpine of Fernando Alonso, Callum Ilott finishing 16th in the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, while Roy Nissany was 18th for Williams as he replaced George Russell for the session.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:05.143 37 238.625
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:05.409 0.266 33 237.655
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:05.431 0.288 33 237.575
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:05.445 0.302 31 237.524
5 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:05.474 0.331 35 237.419
6 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.586 0.443 28 237.013
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:05.709 0.566 32 236.570
8 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:05.726 0.583 31 236.509
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:05.726 0.583 36 236.509
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:05.880 0.737 28 235.956
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:05.980 0.837 30 235.598
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:06.181 1.038 31 234.883
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:06.203 1.060 30 234.805
14 Guanyu Zhou Alpine/Renault 1:06.414 1.271 29 234.059
15 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:06.444 1.301 28 233.953
16 Callum Ilott Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:06.564 1.421 23 233.531
17 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:06.583 1.440 29 233.464
18 Roy Nissany Williams/Mercedes 1:06.683 1.540 34 233.114
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:06.978 1.835 36 232.088
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:07.316 2.173 30 230.922