Melbourne, FP1: Sainz heads Ferrari 1-2 in opening practice for Australian GP

Perez 3rd, Verstappen 4th

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By Olivier Ferret

8 April 2022 - 06:12
Melbourne, FP1: Sainz heads Ferrari (...)

Carlos Sainz beat Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to the top of the time sheet in the opening practice session for this weekend’s 2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix with Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez ahead of team-mate and defending World Champion Max Verstappen.

In a session twice halted by red flags, Sainz eventually posted a session-best time of 1:19.806 to finish more than half a second clear of Leclerc who had a late off track moment. Pérez ended the hour 0.593 off the lead Ferrari, while Verstappen was more than eight tenths adrift.

Pérez was the first to take to the heavily revised and resurfaced Albert Park circuit and the Mexican was swiftly followed by a field keen to get to grips with a new configuration that features a number of widened corners, a new high speed section and four DRS zones.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was the early pacesetter with a lap of 1:25.009 after just four minutes. Verstappen quickly usurped the Briton by posting a lap of 1:23.101 set on soft tyres. He then improved by almost 1.5 seconds as he worked his way into the new layout. The World Champion found more time on his next lap and then lowered the benchmark by a further two tenths of a second to secure P1 with a lap of 1:20.909 ahead of Norris and the hard tyre-shod Leclerc.

Pérez then brought out the red flags when his car shed debris in the final corner. The delay was short, however, and when running resumed Sainz emerged on the hard compound slot into second place, just 0.3s behind Verstappen, while Aston Martin’s Vettel jumped to third ahead of Pérez on soft tyres.

Continuing with the soft C5 compound tyres, Verstappen again improved, this time to 1:20.857, but Leclerc then took to the track on the same compound and he moved ahead of the Red Bull driver by the slim margin of three hundredths of a second.

The two early title protagonists then began to trade fastest times but Sainz then got involved and he took P1 with a lap of 1:20.325s. Leclerc’s Turn 1 mistake then allowed Sainz to improve to 1:19.806. Leclerc then had another off track moment late in the session. Perez stole third from Verstappen in the final moments.

With Verstappen fourth, fifth place went to Norris with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon sixth. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished in P7 ahead of McLaren’s local hero Daniel Ricciardo and the second Alpine of Fernando Alonso. The top 10 order was rounded out by Valtteri Bottas ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and the second Mercedes of George Russell. Finished in 13th place, though he missed the final minutes of the session due to a power unit issue that left him stranded at the side of the track, causing a second short red flag period.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:19.806 24
02 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:20.377 21
03 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:20.399 20
04 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:20.626 22
05 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:20.878 22
06 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:21.004 27
07 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:21.027 26
08 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:21.155 23
09 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:21.229 21
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:21.247 23
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:21.289 26
12 George Russell Mercedes W13 1:21.457 26
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:21.661 18
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:21.701 26
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:21.821 21
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:21.869 24
17 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:22.754 25
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:23.186 18
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:23.924 25
20 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:24.349 15

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