Carlos Sainz led the way in the first practice session of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, clocking a time of 1:19.806 for Ferrari.
The Spaniard finished nearly half a second clear of teammate Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished second and third. Red Bull’s reigning World Champion Max Verstappen finished fourth, eight tenths behind Sainz.
Formula One returns to the Albert Park Circuit for the first time since 2019, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events.
The air temperature is 20.8 degrees Celsius, while the track temperature is 37.8 degrees Celsius, ahead of today’s first practice session.
While the morning sessions in previous races were mostly irrelevant due to the fact that qualifying and the race were held at night, every session matters in Melbourne.
The teams have been analysing data and working on modifications over the break since Saudi Arabia, with Red Bull introducing a new front wing endplate and Ferrari bringing a new diffuser.
Alpine has a new rear brake cover and floor, McLaren has new winglets (rear corner), Aston Martin has a new rear wing, and Haas has a new diffuser Mercedes and AlphaTauri have no new parts, but Williams has a beam wing, floor, front wing, and front brake duct.
It’s not just the vehicles that have been updated; the Albert Park track has undergone significant changes since the previous F1 race in 2019.
The changes, which include the elimination of the old chicane, are designed to increase lap speeds, reduce lap times, and provide more opportunities for passing, all with the goal of increasing the enjoyment factor for both drivers and spectators.
With the track and cars having undergone significant improvements since the last event, lap times were over four seconds faster than FP1 in 2019.
Lando Norris was fifth in his McLaren, ahead of Esteban Ocon in sixth. Lewis Hamilton was the leading Mercedes contender in seventh place, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, the local favorite.
Fernando Alonso spun at Turn 11 in the closing 20 minutes of the session, but finished eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo.
Two red flags were raised during the session, the first of which was triggered by debris that came from a Red Bull and landed on the racing line.
The second occurred in the final 15 minutes of the race, when Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, who has returned to the grid after missing the previous two races with Covid-19, came to a halt on the course due to a Power Unit malfunction.
Several impeding situations were noticed throughout the session, with two of them (Stroll, Magnussen and Sainz, Zhou) being investigated.
George Russell finished 12th in the second Mercedes, behind Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri. Vettel finished 13th after his on-track stop, with teammate Lance Stroll in 16th. Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu were sandwiched between the two Aston Martins.
Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi, both of Williams, finished 17th and 19th, respectively.
Kevin Magnussen missed the morning press conference due to illness, but he was back in the car for FP1 and finished 18th. Mick Schumacher, his teammate, finished 20th in the 60-minute race.
2022 F1 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (1)
|1||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m19.806s|
|2||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m20.377s|
|3||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||1m20.399s|
|4||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m20.626s|
|5||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m20.878s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m21.004s|
|7||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m21.027s|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m21.155s|
|9||Fernando Alonso||ESP||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m21.229s|
|10||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m21.247s|
|11||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m21.289s|
|12||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m21.477s|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m21.661s|
|14||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m21.701s|
|15||Guanyu Zhou||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m21.821s|
|16||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m21.869s|
|17||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1m22.754s|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1m23.186s|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1m23.924s|
|20||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||1m24.349s|