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Max on P2 after first free practice Down Under

Published on 22 March 2024 by Florence Cobben

Max Verstappen has finished the first free practice for the Australian Grand Prix in second. Lando Norris was the fastest man of the session, George Russell put his Mercedes on P3, with Charles Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top five. It was a session on the more difficult side for the drivers, with several trips through the grass and gravel. The practice was also interrupted with a red flag, caused by Alexander Albon losing control of his Williams.

The third Grand Prix-weekend of 2024 has started in Melbourne. When the lights go green on the Albert Park Street Circuit, it’s immediately busy. The drivers take to the track on a mix of soft and medium tyres. Max’s first lap secures him sixth place, a seven-tenths from the fastest driver: Oscar Piastri.  Sergio Perez takes his crown with a 1:19.238 on. a soft tyre. Verstappen sets another lap and is almost five-tenths behind, also on the soft tyre. His next attempt finds him in first place, with a time of 1:18.670. He surpasses Leclerc’s best time with three purple sectors and four-tenths.

Fernando Alonso makes a trip through the gravel in turn ten but finds his way back to the track. His car does find itself in need of some reparation. Halfway through the session, the top five looks as follows: Norris, Verstappen, Tsunoda, Leclerc and Perez. Mercedes doesn’t see any of the top five spots during the first half, with thirteenth for Hamilton and P14 for Russell. The men at RB are looking impressive: Tsunoda is on third, while Ricciardo has secured P7.

Verstappen makes another appearance on a set of new soft tyres, but doesn’t set a better time, caused by a slower second sector. The reigning world-champion slowly drops down position on the timesheets. Norris sets a fast lap with 1:18.564. Tsunoda too finds some hidden pace and drives to second place, five-hundredths off the Brit.

Then follow a number of hiccups by three drivers, who all manage to out-do one another. Russell takes a trip through the gravel in turn ten, after which Valtteri Bottas spins in the same area. He manages to keep his car out of the wall, in contrast to Alexander Albon: he loses control, crashes his Williams in the wall and causes a red flag. He manages to exit unharmed, but has to abandon his battered car.

The clock ticks on slowly but steadily. With just eight minutes left, the session is resumed, and the drivers can once again take to the track. Everyone is pushing to exit the pits. Hamilton shoots through the grass but manages to drive on. Max makes a mistake in turn eleven, cutting his lap short. His last attempt secures him second place. Norris is the fastest man of the session. Russell closes the practice in third, with Leclerc and Tsunoda rounding out the top five.

Contest GP Australia: win a by Max signed Racing cap!

Results first free practice Australia:

1Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:18.564 22
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.582+0.018s18
3George RussellRUSMercedes1:18.597+0.033s20
4Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:18.599+0.035s21
5Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:18.621+0.057s25
6Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.642+0.078s22
7Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:18.667+0.103s25
8Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:18.686+0.122s22
9Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:18.771+0.207s19
10Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:18.918+0.354s24
11Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:19.274+0.710s24
12Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:19.443+0.879s11
13Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:19.489+0.925s20
14Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:19.519+0.955s21
15Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:19.561+0.997s24
16Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:19.604+1.040s20
17Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:19.622+1.058s24
18Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:19.716+1.152s16
19Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:19.989+1.425s22
20Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:20.014+1.450s20