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Verstappen fastest from Hamilton in Australian GP first practice

The World Champion went quickest in FP1 at Albert Park, leading Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez in Melbourne.

Max Verstappen set the fastest time in first practice for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, comfortably ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The World Champion immediately hit the Albert Park track on the Soft compound Pirelli tyres, initially posting a 1:21.272s on his opening lap. but complained of gear-shift and braking problems in the early stages. Verstappen eventually whittled his time down to a 1:18.790s to eclipse the fastest time from FP1 in 2022, a 1:19.806s, ending up 0.433s clear of Hamilton. Sergio Perez was third in the second Red Bull, with McLaren's home rookie Oscar Piastri in 12th. The session was briefly red-flagged with about 20 minutes remaining of the hour's running due to a glitch with the GPS system, meaning teams were unable to inform drivers of approaching traffic, causing near misses at high speed. Logan Sargeant's later stoppage curtailed the session with four minutes remaining after his Williams ground to a halt.

Verstappen quick out of the blocks

While the field took either a set of Mediums or Hards, Verstappen headed out on Softs, to trade times with Perez, who had gone out on Mediums. On his ninth lap of the day, Verstappen pumped in the 1:18.790s to go P1 from where he would not be dislodged. Perez then exchanged his Mediums for Softs, his first attempt was aborted after he ran wide and onto the grass at Turn 3. After the red flag restart, Perez emerged on Mediums, cementing Verstappen in P1 - but there was time for a high-speed spin for the #1 at the exit of Turn 4, although he was able to continue on his way. Languishing 14th on the time sheets, Hamilton managed to pump in a 1:19.223s to leapfrog to second place, just before Sargeant stopped and brought the session to an early end. He ended up 0.070s faster than Perez in third. The late Hamilton flyer demoted Fernando Alonso down to fourth, ahead of the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, Leclerc 0.588s down on the Verstappen benchmark.

Trouble for Norris

Lando Norris was seventh fastest for McLaren, but missed a chunk of the session early on. The team reported this was down to the removal of aero sensors and nothing more serious, as he wound up about a tenth clear of Pierre Gasly in eighth as George Russell and Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10. Alex Albon and Piastri were the only other drivers to get within one second of the Verstappen time, with 13th place Nico Hulkenberg the first outside this mark. Nyck de Vries, Sargeant, and Esteban Ocon were 14th, 15th and 16th, as 17th place driver Yuki Tsunoda suffered a high-speed spin through the gravel at Turn 1. The two Alfa Romeos were 18th and 19th, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Zhou Guanyu as Kevin Magnussen was 20th and last, 2.357s down on Verstappen.

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