In Melbourne, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz was the fastest man after the first free practice session in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix. The Spaniard set the fastest time in 1:19.806 during the morning practice session In Melbourne at the Albert Park Circuit. The top 3 was closed by Sergio Perez at the expense of Max Verstappen
The signal went green for the first free practice session since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the drivers immediately jumped into action. Valtteri Bottas opened in his Alfa Romeo with a lap time of 1:26.761. Soon McLaren’s Lando Norris was under in 1:25.009 followed by Daniel Ricciardo. In the first five minutes, 14 drivers had already set a time, including Charles Leclerc with the 8th fastest time. Norris improved the fastest time for the time being to 1:23.066, Max Verstappen, who had also started his program in the meantime, was good for second time. Lance Stroll had to give up his P3 to Alpine driver Esteban Ocon.
Under the Australian sun, things didn’t seem to go well at Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton had the 10th time behind his name, teammate George Russell had to make do with the 14th time behind Alex Albon in the AlphaTauri. after the first 10 minutes, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Mick Schumacher, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz hadn’t scored yet.
With 50 minutes remaining in the session, Verstappen improved to the fastest time in 1:21.625. Leclerc followed behind the Dutchman. For Alpine, Ocon took third place ahead of both McLaren cars. While Nicholas Latifi set his first timed lap in P16, Norris improved his time to dive below Leclerc’s to take possession of P2. With 45 minutes to go Hamilton had also tightened his time and was now in 7th place behind Sebastian Vettel who was back on the grid after his Covid-19 infection.
Sergio Perez (P11) was on a fast lap but the Mexican lost part of the RB18 which caused the red flag to be waved. Perez’s teammate, current world champion Max Verstappen, had tightened the fastest time of the moment already behind his am to 1:20.909. Lando Norris is behind the Dutchman against a backlog of 0.902 seconds. only 0.004 seconds behind it was between the Brit and Charles Leclerc. The debris from Perez was cleared and the session resumed with 35 minutes to go in the first free practice session.
At Ferrari, a satisfied sound could be heard when Carlos Sainz positioned himself in P2 behind Verstappen. With that, the Spaniard referred Norris back to P3. The difference between Sainz and Verstappen at that time was 0.340 seconds. The first 30 minutes had passed when Sebastian Vettel was on a roll, the German closing in behind Sainz in his Aston Martin. Sergio Perez also reported in the top 5 for Lewis Hamilton at that time. Verstappen saw the changes in the timekeeping and for the time being sharpened the fastest time to 1:20.857. However, this was not enough as his rival Leclerc dived under by a difference of 0.032 seconds. By the time of 1:20.25 driven through the Monegask, the Red Bull driver was standing between the Ferraris. Perez followed the top 3 with Yuki Tsunoda behind him who spurs his Alpha Tauri.
This did not last long when Hamilton improved in his Mercedes and moved on to P3. Ironically, his former team-mate Valtteri Bottas joined behind the seven-time world champion in the Alfa Romeo. Meanwhile, the last 20 minutes arrived and it was Sainz who set the fastest time in 1:20.325. Leclerc followed suit and followed with a gap of 0.052 seconds. Verstappen, who was in the garage at the time, watched from P3.
Another round flag with fifteen minutes to go in training, this by a smoking Aston Martin. It was Sebastian Vettel’s car that came to a stop on the track. The German himself briefly used a fire extinguisher and then became a knight on foot. At that moment Sainz improved his time and set the fastest time for the time being in 1:19.806. The signal went green again and the session resumed for the second time with 10 minutes left on the clock.
In the final phase of the first free practice, Sergio Perez improved his time. The Mexican referred teammate Verstappen back to P4 in a lap time of 1:20.399.
Carlos Sainz closed the session on the Albert Park Circuit with the fastest time in 1:19.806 ahead of Charles Leclerc. Sergio Perez closed the top 3 with Max Verstappen behind him. Lando Norris had the fifth fastest time in his McLaren.
Results first free practice Grand Prix of Australia 2022