Thursday, April 18, 2024

Red Bull Set the Pace in Spanish GP First Practice

Oracle Red Bull Racing set the pace in the Spanish Grand Prix’s first practice session with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez well ahead of the rest. Verstappen will be going into the weekend hoping to extend his Championship lead with a second consecutive Spanish GP victory, and it’s been so far, so good for the Dutchman.

A number of drivers chose to begin the day by running on the prototype tires before going onto the medium compound tyres. Verstappen took the lead early on, surpassing his previous and current Red Bull teammates, Pierre Gasly and Perez setting the pace. The Red Bull duo quickly switched to the soft tire, and Perez managed to take the lead on the leaderboard. However, Verstappen promptly responded by posting a time of 1:14.606s, surpassing his teammate’s time by a remarkable 0.768s, just moments later.

It wasn’t all easy going for the drivers though, with many drivers including the Red Bull duo, complaining about bouncing coming out of the new look final sector. The intricate chicane in the last sector, which was added in 2007, has been replaced, restoring the circuit’s original layout from 1991 to 2006. The revised circuit now features two fast right-hand corners to conclude the lap, and it is causing some bouncing problems up and down the grid.

Esteban Ocon continued his impressive form following on from his podium in the Monaco Grand Prix and put himself behind the Red Bull pair. Nyck de Vries needs to put in a strong performance this weekend, with rumours circling of Red Bull looking to replace him in the AlphaTauri seat and he started well, putting in a storming lap to finish the session in fourth ahead of BWT Alpine F1 Team’s Pierre Gasly.

Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Home favourite Fernando Alonso secured the sixth-fastest time for Aston Martin after a slow start to the session, ahead of Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen. The Scuderia Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. followed in eighth and ninth place, with Sainz being the sole Ferrari driver testing their upgraded package during the first practice, but rather worryingly finishing behind his teammate.

For Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, George Russell claimed tenth position, while Lewis Hamilton, a six-time victor at this circuit, finished in twelfth place. McLaren F1 Team took time to get going but towards the end of the session, Lando Norris put in a time that separated the two Mercedes drivers, securing eleventh.

Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake’s Zhou Guanyu, secured the thirteenth fastest time, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri and Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin, who finished in fourteenth and fifteenth place, respectively.

Zhou’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished in sixteenth with McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri trailing in 17th place. Nico Hulkenberg had a difficult session for Haas finishing in eighteenth place, a long way behind his teammate. While Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon from Williams Racing completed the bottom of the field in nineteenth and twentieth.

Free Practice 2 begins this afternoon as the drivers will look to get more confidence around the circuit and find the optimum setup for qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:14.606 32
2 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:15.374 +0.768s 32
3 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:15.418 +0.812s 28
4 Nyck De Vries ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:15.504 +0.898s 27
5 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 1:15.545 +0.939s 27
6 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:15.547 +0.941s 24
7 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:15.689 +1.083s 22
8 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:15.694 +1.088s 28
9 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:15.726 +1.120s 27
10 George Russell MERCEDES 1:15.753 +1.147s 32
11 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:15.783 +1.177s 25
12 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:15.845 +1.239s 29
13 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:15.906 +1.300s 24
14 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:15.915 +1.309s 27
15 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:15.939 +1.333s 25
16 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:15.978 +1.372s 24
17 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:16.353 +1.747s 26
18 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 1:16.461 +1.855s 28
19 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:16.506 +1.900s 30
20 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:16.630 +2.024s 28
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