Verstappen Takes Lead in F1 Austrian GP Practice, Ferrari Drivers Follow

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During a pleasant and sunny afternoon in the Styrian hills, the practice session for the F1 Austrian Grand Prix unfolded. Lewis Hamilton started strong with a lap time of 1m09.021s, but Max Verstappen quickly overshadowed him with an impressive 1m08.094s, showcasing his dominance as the current championship leader.

Sergio Perez joined the battle, setting a lap time of 1m07.595s to claim the top spot temporarily. However, Verstappen responded with a swift 1m07.145s before Perez countered with a slightly faster lap of 1m07.111s. Both drivers were pushing their limits on the hard compound tires.

Verstappen swiftly struck back with a time of 1m06.961s, establishing Red Bull’s supremacy at their home circuit. However, Fernando Alonso surprised everyone with a lap of 1m06.656s on the yellow-walled Pirelli tires, temporarily claiming the lead.

With a mere 0.058s advantage, Verstappen reclaimed the top position, only to be surpassed by Hamilton’s 1m06.416s, elevating him above his 2021 title rival.

The order stabilized as the opening half-hour drew to a close, but the top five encountered a disruption when Alex Albon, on soft tires, made an appearance after Williams decided to skip the first 20 minutes of the session.

Approaching the final 15 minutes, more teams opted to test the limits of the Red Bull Ring circuit on soft tires, preparing for the upcoming qualifying session.

Lance Stroll emerged in second place, just 0.134s behind Hamilton’s time on the hard tires. However, the top three rapidly changed as Charles Leclerc secured the lead with a strong lap on soft tires. Perez then moved up to second on the medium compound before Verstappen set a blistering 1m06.084s lap time on the same tire type.

Carlos Sainz made his mark by posting a 1m05.983s on his first flying run on softs, edging Verstappen by a tenth of a second. Sainz completed the session on top as the hour elapsed, but Verstappen’s final lap of 1m05.742s on the medium tires proved enough to surpass Sainz.

Leclerc settled into third place, trailing Sainz by a mere 0.03s in the timing order, while Hamilton’s sole run on soft tires fell half a second short of the leading pace.

Perez and Stroll secured the fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Stroll encountered debris earlier in the session but faced no adverse consequences. Kevin Magnussen from Haas claimed seventh place on the timing boards and engaged in a minor incident with Nyck de Vries, who questioned Magnussen’s actions at Turn 1.

Alonso finished eighth without utilizing soft tires, while George Russell’s ninth-fastest time was achieved on hard tires. Zhou Guanyu completed the top 10, with Albon, who started the session late, just behind.

Lando Norris found himself at the bottom of the table, despite sporting the full range of new McLaren upgrades on his car. He exited the session early and did not complete a final lap on soft tires, as his team was observed making adjustments to his front wing.

Full Results:

  1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1m05.742s
  2. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari – 1m05.983s (+0.241s)
  3. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari – 1m06.012s (+0.270s)
  4. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1m06.251s (+0.509s)
  5. Sergio Perez – Red Bull – 1m06.262s (+0.520s)
  6. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin – 1m06.340s (+0.598s)
  7. Kevin Magnussen – Haas – 1m06.497s (+0.755s)
  8. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin – 1m06.656s (+0.914s)
  9. George Russell – Mercedes – 1m06.696s (+0.954s)
  10. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo – 1m06.780s (+1.038s)
  11. Alex Albon – Williams – 1m06.794s (+1.052s)
  12. Oscar Piastri – McLaren – 1m06.809s (+1.067s)
  13. Nico Hulkenberg – Haas – 1m06.846s (+1.104s)
  14. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo – 1m06.847s (+1.105s)
  15. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri – 1m06.985s (+1.243s)
  16. Nyck de Vries – AlphaTauri – 1m07.017s (+1.275s)
  17. Logan Sargeant – Williams – 1m07.018s (+1.276s)
  18. Esteban Ocon – Alpine – 1m07.202s (+1.460s)
  19. Pierre Gasly – Alpine – 1m07.287s (+1.545s)
  20. Lando Norris – McLaren – 1m07.368s (+1.626s)

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