Qatar, FP1: Verstappen tops timesheet in opening practice
Gasly 2nd, Bottas 3rd
Championship leader Max Verstappen set the fastest lap of the first practice session for the this inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, outpacing sister team driver Pierre Gasly by four tenths of a second as Valtteri Bottas finished third. Title contender Lewis Hamilton ended the session more than seven tenths of a second off the pace, complaining a lack of power on the circuit’s long straight.
Verstappen led the way in the early part of the session, running hard tyres, with the Red Bull driver swapping table-topping times with the medium tyre-shod McLaren on Lando Norris as drivers got to grips with the flat, wide-open expanses of a circuit making its first appearance in F1 and which is more associated with MotoGP.
Bottas then bolted a set of soft tyres to jump to the top of the order but Verstappen was soon back in charge thanks to a similarly equipped lap of 1:23.723 that as the session’s best until he chequered flag.
Bottas was close to holding on to second place, but Gasly went for a late run on softs at the end of the session and jumped three hundredths of a second ahead of the Finn with a lap of 1:24.160.
Behind the top three Hamilton claimed fourth place, though his best lap of 1:24.509 left him 0.786s off the pace of Verstappen. Seven-timer champion Hamilton was unhappy with his car throughout the session, asking his pit wall whether his engine was down on power on the straights. He was told, however, that he was running at similar speeds to his rivals. Later in the session Mercedes asked Hamilton to bring the car back to the pit lane as he had sustained damage running over kerbs.
Yuki Tsunoda finished the session in fifth place, while Carlos Sainz was the lead Ferrari in sixth place with team-mate Charles Leclerc in seventh. Sergio Pérez took eighth for Red Bull ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Norris.
However, Norris also fell foul of Losail’s kerbs. The Briton was forced to return to the pit lane after losing power after running wide in Turn 15 and clattering along the serrated kerb on the outside of the corner. He was able to return to the track later in the session.
There was trouble, too, for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. The Canadian reported a brake failure and only completed 11 laps in the session.
|01||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16B||1:23.723||22|
|02||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT02||1:24.160||28|
|03||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W12||1:24.194||24|
|04||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W12||1:24.509||21|
|05||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda AT02||1:24.648||27|
|06||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF21||1:24.713||26|
|07||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF21||1:24.790||27|
|08||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RB16B||1:24.915||22|
|09||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A521||1:24.972||23|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL35M||1:25.215||19|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes MCL35M||1:25.291||24|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21||1:25.328||19|
|13||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43B||1:25.688||24|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41||1:25.757||23|
|15||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41||1:25.828||25|
|16||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43B||1:25.871||24|
|17||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A521||1:25.905||21|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-21||1:26.699||21|
|19||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21||1:26.712||11|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari VF-21||1:27.500||16|