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Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen suffers more engine trouble but still heads Austria practice

On the cusp of a PU penalty, Max Verstappen sustained a worrying engine glitch in the only practice session of the Austrian GP weekend.

Verstappen engine failure FP1 Austria
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Max Verstappen encountered further engine trouble but barely skipped a beat as he posted the quickest time at the end of the only practice session ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix sprint weekend.

Verstappen brought out the red flags 25 minutes into the hour-long run at the Red Bull Ring when his car slowed on the run up the start-finish straight.

On the approach to Turns 9 and 10, Verstappen recognised a problem with the engine but had already passed the entry to the pit lane, and was unable to dive in back to the garage.

As the session was stopped, the astute three-time F1 champion then gently rolled his car back down the hill. Once the rest of the field had returned to the pits, the marshals were able to assist and steer the RB20 through a gap in the pit wall, and from there, the short distance to the Red Bull garage.

Verstappen was fortunate to have encountered the problem where he did as anywhere else on track and he would have been forced to have stopped and missed vital minutes of running.

Instead, following a quick reset of the system after what was prescribed as a sensor issue, Verstappen was quickly back on track when the session resumed.

Whatever the situation, there is still likely to be a degree of concern in the future, particularly as Verstappen sits on the cusp of a grid penalty as he has used four power units this season. Should a fifth element of a PU be required, it will lead to an initial 10-place punishment.

The current championship leader, though, ended up fastest with a time of 1:05.685s, 0.276s ahead of McLaren's Oscar Piasrtri, followed by the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Result Free practice 1 - Austrian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Mercedes looking strong

It was a Red Bull Ring sporting new track limits measures given the fiasco that unfolded last year when there were over a thousand infringements, numerous penalties, and a final race classification not issued until five hours after the chequered flag.

To avoid a repeat, a 2.5-metre wide gravel strip now sits directly behind the kerb at the exits of Turns 9 and 10. In Turns 1, 3, 4 and 6, the white line has been moved to make the distance to the gravel less than two metres. It worked perfectly as there was not one infringement during the session.

With only 60 minutes of on-track running ahead of sprint qualifying, it resulted in a naturally hectic session, and a mix of compounds being used as the teams adopted different run plans. 

After 15 minutes it was a Mercedes one-two, with Russell ahead of Hamilton by just six-thousandths of a second with a lap of 1:06.386s, and with the duo on the hard Pirellis. Verstappen was third quickest, a quarter-of-a-second adrift on the mediums.

Hamilton then edged ahead at the 20-minute mark by 0.132s to Russell before the teams and drivers engaged in race runs, which had to be halted for a few minutes when Verstappen brought out the red flags.

Norris makes a mistake

It was not until the final 10 minutes that the soft tyres started to emerge in earnest, as only Williams had used the red-striped rubber early on.

From last on the timesheet, Aston Martin's Lance Stroll propelled himself up to second, 0.130s behind Hamilton, a surprising deficit given the seven-time F1 champion's time was on the hards.

With five minutes to run, Leclerc and Sainz briefly held one-two before Verstappen posted the first sub-66 seconds lap with a time of 1:05.685s.

Briefly, after setting the fastest time in the first sector, it appeared as if Lando Norris would usurp Verstappen, but ran wide at Turn 4 and into the gravel to undo his earlier good work.

Hamilton and Russell never set a time on the softs, so the duo ended up fifth and eighth quickest on their hard tyres. Sandwiched in between were Alpine's Esteban Ocon and Stroll.

Completing the top 10 were RB's Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso in his Aston Martin.

Tsunoda complained about the feeling from his steering column early on, going so far as to suggest a change later in the session, only to be informed that was not possible given the time constraints.

At the foot of the standings were the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant in his Williams, the latter 1.574s adrift on the medium tyres.

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