F1 – Sainz Heads Ferrari 1-2 In Opening Practice For Australian Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz beat Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to the top of the time sheet in the opening practice session for this weekend’s 2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix with Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez ahead of team-mate and defending World Champion Max Verstappen.

In a session twice halted by red flags, Sainz eventually posted a session-best time of 1:19.806 to finish more than half a second clear of Leclerc who had a late off track moment. Pérez ended the hour 0.593 off the lead Ferrari, while Verstappen was more than eight tenths adrift.

Pérez was the first to take to the heavily revised and resurfaced Albert Park circuit and the Mexican was swiftly followed by a field keen to get to grips with a new configuration that features a number of widened corners, a new high speed section and four DRS zones.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was the early pacesetter with a lap of 1:25.009 after just four minutes. Verstappen quickly usurped the Briton by posting a lap of 1:23.101 set on soft tyres. He then improved by almost 1.5 seconds as he worked his way into the new layout. The World Champion found more time on his next lap and then lowered the benchmark by a further two tenths of a second to secure P1 with a lap of 1:20.909 ahead of Norris and the hard tyre-shod Leclerc.

Pérez then brought out the red flags when his car shed debris in the final corner. The delay was short, however, and when running resumed Sainz emerged on the hard compound slot into second place, just 0.3s behind Verstappen, while Aston Martin’s Vettel jumped to third ahead of Pérez on soft tyres.

Continuing with the soft C5 compound tyres, Verstappen again improved, this time to 1:20.857, but Leclerc then took to the track on the same compound and he moved ahead of the Red Bull driver by the slim margin of three hundredths of a second.

The two early title protagonists then began to trade fastest times but Sainz then got involved and he took P1 with a lap of 1:20.325s. Leclerc’s Turn 1 mistake then allowed Sainz to improve to 1:19.806. Leclerc then had another off track moment late in the session. Perez stole third from Verstappen in the final moments.

With Verstappen fourth, fifth place went to Norris with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon sixth. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished in P7 ahead of McLaren’s local hero Daniel Ricciardo and the second Alpine of Fernando Alonso. The top 10 order was rounded out by Valtteri Bottas ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and the second Mercedes of George Russell. Finished in 13th place, though he missed the final minutes of the session due to a power unit issue that left him stranded at the side of the track, causing a second short red flag period.

2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 24 1:19.806   239.215
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 21 1:20.377 0.571 0.571 237.515
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 20 1:20.399 0.593 0.022 237.450
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 22 1:20.626 0.820 0.227 236.782
5 Lando Norris McLaren 22 1:20.878 1.072 0.252 236.044
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine 27 1:21.004 1.198 0.126 235.677
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 26 1:21.027 1.221 0.023 235.610
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 23 1:21.155 1.349 0.128 235.238
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 21 1:21.229 1.423 0.074 235.024
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 23 1:21.247 1.441 0.018 234.972
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 26 1:21.289 1.483 0.042 234.850
12 George Russell Mercedes 26 1:21.457 1.651 0.168 234.366
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 18 1:21.661 1.855 0.204 233.781
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 26 1:21.701 1.895 0.040 233.666
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 21 1:21.821 2.015 0.120 233.323
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 24 1:21.869 2.063 0.048 233.187
17 Alex Albon Williams 25 1:22.754 2.948 0.885 230.693
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 18 1:23.186 3.380 0.432 229.495
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 25 1:23.924 4.118 0.738 227.477
20 Mick Schumacher Haas 15 1:24.349 4.543 0.425 226.331

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