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Verstappen quickest in Styria as Red Bull team-mate Perez and Ferrari's Sainz spin

Verstappen quickest in Styria as Red Bull team-mate Perez and Ferrari's Sainz spin

F1 News

Verstappen quickest in Styria as Red Bull team-mate Perez and Ferrari's Sainz spin

Verstappen quickest in Styria as Red Bull team-mate Perez and Ferrari's Sainz spin

Max Verstappen maintained his run of superb form by setting the quickest time in the opening practice session for this weekend's Styrian Grand Prix.

In a dry hour-long session at the Red Bull Ring, given rain is forecast across the next few days, Verstappen finished a quarter-of-a-second faster than Pierre Gasly in his Alpha Tauri with a lap of one minute 05.910secs.

Bizarrely, no driver who has finished quickest in FP1 has gone on to win any of the seven races so far this season.

After winning two of the last three races, and being denied three in a row by a tyre blowout in the Azerbaijan GP, the Red Bull driver has opened up a 12-point gap to reigning seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes.

Hamilton was forced to settle for the third-best lap time, finishing 0.422s adrift of his title rival whose RB16B was again running the low-downforce rear wing that proved so instrumental in Verstappen's success on Sunday in France.

Valtteri Bottas did momentarily pop up into second place on the timesheet at a time when the drivers were on the soft-tyre compound, only to have the lap deleted for exceeding track limits, eventually finishing fourth quickest 0.054s behind Hamilton.

Bottas and Hamilton were among many drivers that had times deleted, notably Lando Norris in his McLaren and Alpine's Fernando Alonso who had six and three apiece. Overall, there were 19 laps in total that were wiped.

In a strong performance from AlphaTauri, Yuki Tsunoda was fifth, just under half a second back from Verstappen, followed by Alonso and Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon, albeit the latter duo were just over six-tenths of a second down.

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi in his Alfa Romeo and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc completed the top 10, the latter 0.719s off the pace.

As for Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, the Mexican spun out of the quick right-hander at turn four 40 minutes into the session due to a degree of understeer and finished a lowly 13th by his standards behind Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo.

At one stage, Sainz lost the rear of his car mid-corner through turn one after claiming there was an issue with first gear, spinning through 90 degrees and leaving the SF21 straddled across the pit exit.

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, Williams's George Russell and Norris were the last of the drivers to finish inside a second of Verstappen in 14th, 15th and 16th, with Norris suffering given his high number of laps that were deleted.

Robert Kubica, in for Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo, made a stuttering start with an early spin on cold, hard tyres, with the Pole finishing 19th, 1.913s behind Verstappen but ahead of rock-bottom Nikita Mazepin in his Haas who was 2.171s down.

Styrian Grand Prix first practice times

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:05.910

2. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +0.256s

3. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.422s

4. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] +0.476s

5. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +0.487s

6. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +0.609s

7. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +0.641s

8. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +0.674s

9. Antonio Giovinazzi [Alfa Romeo] +0.704s

10. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.719s

11. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.720s

12. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +0.759s

13. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.786s

14. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +0.798s

15. George Russell [Williams] +0.938s

16. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.951s

17. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +1.270s

18. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.563s

19. Robert Kubica [Alfa Romeo] +1.913s

20. Nikita Mazepin [Haas] +2.171s

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