Ferrari’s Spanish Grand Prix weekend got off to a good start, with championship leader Charles Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz topping the timesheet in Friday’s first practice.

As Ferrari introduced its new upgrade package, championship leader Leclerc’s first true flying lap of the 60-minute session propelled him to the top of the timesheets with a 1m19.828. This was 0.079s faster than teammate Sainz, who is still looking for his first Formula One win.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen placed third, 0.079s behind the leading Ferrari, with Mercedes’ George Russell and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso rounding out the top five.

After the opulent and joyous opening atmosphere in Miami, Formula 1 returned to a more low-key and familiar setting in Barcelona, where the sun is shining as brightly as it was in South Florida this weekend.

The F1 field has seen a slew of upgrades, with McLaren, Aston Martin, and Alfa Romeo leading the way, while Mercedes has made a few tweaks to its W13 as it continues to look for a solution to its porpoising troubles.

FP1 began with two new faces and the return of an F1 veteran, in addition to the design revisions. Nyck de Vries and Juri Vips made their official F1 debuts with Williams and Red Bull, respectively, replacing Alex Albon and Sergio Perez, while Robert Kubica was offered a ride by Alfa Romeo.

Pirelli is providing its C1 to C3 hardest range of tyres this weekend, a rather easy decision – which is the same as last year, but utilising a brand-new family of rubber.

At the start of the 60-minute session, installation laps and aero rakes were the norm, but as the action picked up, the hard-shod combo of Verstappen and Leclerc took the lead.

The Red Bull drivers’ first benchmark time of the day – a 1m21.876s – was predictably slower than Lewis Hamilton’s quickest lap in pre-season testing in Barcelona, a 1m19.138s that should be smashed in short order.

The pace improved as the practice progressed, with Sainz setting the fastest time of 1m19.907, 0.683s ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell and Hamilton. However, Leclerc outperformed his teammate by 0.079s, making it a Ferrari 1-2, with Verstappen, Russell, and Hamilton lining up behind him.

Despite the given number of component modifications for the majority of teams, it’s understandable that teams prioritised set-up work over hot laps. Meanwhile, a few on-track incidents between the Spaniard and Hamilton, as well as Verstappen and Bottas, were investigated in the stewards’ office – which is not Fernando Alonso’s favourite chamber.

The top three positions remained unchanged as the session came to a close, with Leclerc and Sainz leading the way for Ferrari and Verstappen in third. Russell, in P4, provided a good start for Mercedes, edging off Alonso and Hamilton.

Both McLaren drivers finished in the top 10, with Norris and Ricciardo taking P7 and P9, respectively, sandwiching AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who had some paint removed from his AT03, presumably to save weight.

Following Yuki Tsunoda, who finished first in the first half of the field, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, and Robert Kubica followed, with the latter taking the lead at Alfa Romeo ahead of Bottas.

Nyck de Vries had a strong session, clocking a better time than Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi, while Juri Vips rounded out the field, the Estonian tasked with development work for Red Bull for his first official practice session in Formula One.

20221 Spanish  Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 results

1Charles LeclercFerrari1:19.828s27
2Carlos SainzFerrari1:19.907s+ 0.079s27
3Max VerstappenRed Bull1:20.164s+ 0.336s28
4George RussellMercedes1:20.590s+ 0.762s28
5Fernando AlonsoAlpine1:20.768s+ 0.940s24
6Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.811s+ 0.983s27
7Lando NorrisMcLaren1:21.279s+ 1.451s24
8Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri1:21.422s+ 1.594s23
9Daniel RicciardoMcLaren1:21.737s+ 1.909s23
10Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1:21.814s+ 1.986s28
11Esteban OconAlpine1:21.891s+ 2.063s26
12Lance StrollAston Martin1:21.920s+ 2.092s23
13Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo1:21.975s+ 2.147s20
14Kevin MagnussenHaas1:22.089s+ 2.261s16
15Mick SchumacherHaas1:22.146s+ 2.318s21
16Sebastian VettelAston Martin1:22.164s+ 2.336s20
17Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo1:22.614s+ 2.786s25
18Nyck de VriesWilliams1:22.920s+ 3.092s28
19Nicholas LatifiWilliams1:23.011s+ 3.183s27
20Jüri VipsRed Bull1:24.138s+ 4.310s23

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