At the end of the first day of F1 racing for the Australian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc set the overall pace ahead of Max Verstappen in the afternoon practice session.
Leclerc’s fastest lap time of 1’18.978 was a tenth of a second better than Max Verstappen’s best time in the Red Bull. In the second Ferrari, Carlos Sainz Jr was third fastest, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso fourth.
Between the end of first practice and the start of the afternoon session, clouds had settled over the Albert Park circuit. In the slightly cooler afternoon temperatures, teams took to the track on medium tyres for some early data.
As the pit lane opened, a few drops of rain began to fall, but the monsoon never arrived, allowing the teams to resume their practice programs. The practice got off to a fast start, with Zhou Guanyu and Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, and George Russell being the first to on the track.
Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren set the fastest time of 1:21.793 on the soft tyre, with teammate Lando Norris in second. Norris was only a tenth behind his teammate after a hair-raising situation into turn 10.
The two Ferraris rapidly displaced Ricciardo, with Charles Leclerc taking the lead and being followed by teammate Carlos Sainz. The stewards took note of an impeding incident between Sainz and Lance Stroll of Aston Martin. After the session, the stewards announced that they will examine Stroll and Yuki Tsuonda for separate occurrences.
Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo maintained his great form in practice sessions, jumping to P1 before the two Ferraris reclaimed their positions at the top of the standings.
Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion, missed his first lap after going too far into the fast turn 10. His first successful run put him in seventh place, while Fernando Alonso wowed the crowd in the Alpine, with a time good enough to keep him in fourth for the whole of the session.
The teams subsequently switched to soft tyres, causing a lull on the circuit. Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was damaged by Tsuonda’s AlphaTauri on his first lap on the softs, although the damage to his tyres was minor because he backed off at the start of the lap.
On his run, teammate Leclerc was not much faster on the softer tyres, and only ran two tenths faster than his medium run to maintain his lead. Sainz was two tenths faster than Leclerc on the softs in his second try, putting him in first place.
Lando Norris raced back into the top three on his light run, finishing third fastest as Bottas took to the grass at turn one.
Fernando Alonso lit up the sector timings on his gentle run in the second half of the afternoon, going 0.31s faster than the Ferraris to take the lead before being passed by Sainz and Leclerc. Esteban Ocon, a teammate of Alonso’s, finished fourth, his excellent performance causing alarm among the midfielders.
In the first half of the practice, Mercedes did not appear in the top half of the timings, with both Silver Arrows running down the order. Russell was once again ahead of Hamilton as they went out for their soft tyre runs. Russell moved up to P9, but Hamilton dropped to P12, just under a tenth slower than his colleague.
Verstappen’s first lap on the softs was good enough to split the Alpines, but the Red Bull ran into vehicles and missed the apex of turn 11 during his lap.
Alfa Romeo, McLaren, and AlphaTauri swapped positions in the bottom ten, with Verstappen and Perez moving up to P3 and P5, respectively. Verstappen was next poised to take the lead, but he became stuck at the final corner.
The track went quiet with 15 minutes to go as the leading runners pitted, leaving a few of the middle drivers out, and no gains were made as the teams moved their focus to race runs.
The single red flag of the session appeared after a piece of Lance Stroll’s AMR22 separated from the chassis, which the Canadian managed to dislodge as he approached the kerbs. The training was promptly restarted, and the race runs went on as planned, with no time modifications.
As the chequered flag dropped, current race winners Leclerc and Verstappen led the times, with Leclerc’s fastest time of 1:18.978 and Verstappen’s fastest time of 0.245s. The top three were rounded out by Carlos Sainz.
The Alpine’s were in 4th and 6th place, separated by Sergio Perez’s second Red Bull. Both McLarens and Alpines were in the top ten throughout the practice, in P8 and P10, separated by Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri in P9.
Mercedes finished the session 11th and 13th, putting in yet another subdued effort, trailing on both high speed and lengthy race runs.
Sebastian Vettel’s tumultuous weekend continued after his Aston Martin’s AMR22 caught fire in FP1. After missing the first two races due to Covid, the four-time World Champion now has an uphill battle to recover from a tainted race weekend.
2022 F1 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (2)
|1||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m18.978s|
|2||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m19.223s|
|3||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m19.376s|
|4||Fernando Alonso||ESP||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m19.537s|
|5||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||1m19.658s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m19.842s|
|7||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m20.055s|
|8||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m20.0100s|
|9||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m20.142s|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m20.203s|
|11||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m20.212s|
|12||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m20.424s|
|13||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m20.521s|
|14||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m20.611s|
|15||Guanyu Zhou||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m21.063s|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1m21.191s|
|17||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1m21.912s|
|18||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||1m21.974s|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1m22.307s|
|20||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||No Time Set|