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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Norris quickest in FP1 as Albon brings out purple flag

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Fernando Alonso led the pack out of the pits with a big aerodynamic-load measuring gadget fitted to the entrance of his Aston Martin and its new entrance wing, but it surely was George Russell who initially set the first-place benchmark at 1m30.214s.

This was, nevertheless, nearly 10s off the early tempo and Russell was shortly shuffled again throughout the early operating – the place each Mercedes drivers complained about lengthy brake pedals and the circuit floor gained grip because it cleaned up and had rubber laid down upon it.

The highest spot modified fingers all through the opening third of the one-hour session, the place solely Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc ran the softs from the off, with the remainder on mediums.

Perez and Leclerc exchanged quickest instances on the red-walled rubber, with the previous operating an unbroken preliminary stint, whereas the latter joined Verstappen in making a visit to the pits for fast changes.

Leclerc took his first set of softs again to the highest spot on a 1m19.110s on the 15-minute mark, simply earlier than Verstappen beat that with a 1m18.670s and a lull in motion then adopted.

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Essentially the most notable moments within the subsequent part had been Yuki Tsunoda placing his medium-shod RB in between the 2 early leaders and Alonso shedding the rear of his automobile by means of the Flip 10 high-speed proper that follows Flip 9 on the finish of the meandering, quick walled run from Flip 6 and skating throughout the exit gravel at high-speed earlier than returning to the pits.

Simply earlier than the midway level, with a lot of the automobiles nonetheless within the pits throughout the lull, Norris moved into first place with McLarens first run on the C5 softs, which had been barely utilized by any group throughout Bahrain pre-season testing, on a 1m18.564s.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Because the pack headed out in dribs and drabs by means of the beginning of the session’s second half, the bulk ran softs and had been in a position to edge forward of the preliminary frontrunners.

This included Lance Stroll, who edged forward of Verstappen – the Purple Bull having headed again out at this stage on the identical set of softs and never going any faster – and Tsunoda once more, by this stage operating the softs.

As the ultimate third kicked off, Leclerc slotted in a private finest on the second flier of his second set of softs to sit down simply 0.035s behind Norris, simply earlier than the session was suspended by Albon’s massive crash.

The Williams driver’s FW44 snapped violently proper after he ran laborious over the Flip 7 inside kerb, which pitched him quickly into the wall earlier than he bounced again throughout the observe to hit the alternative wall, smashing each side of the automobile.

This showered particles over an extended part of this high-speed blast and the session didn’t resume till simply 9 minutes remained, as soon as the items had been gathered and the Williams eliminated – Albon having been shortly collected by the medical automobile however having declared himself “okay”.

All of the automobiles headed again of the ultimate run to the flag, with most staying on used softs that they struggled to heat within the comparatively cool Melbourne circumstances.

This led to a sequence of offs from high-profile drivers – Lewis Hamilton at Flip 1 on his first softs flier of the session, Verstappen on the exit of Flip 10 when he was on observe to topple Norris, and Perez on the penultimate nook simply as he was about to set a private finest.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Picture by: Mark Horsburgh / Motorsport Images

Verstappen had sufficient time to go for a last flier within the final minute, the place he jumped to second and 0.018s off Norris – however with out setting a private finest.

Russell, who had misplaced his first softs run saving an enormous oversteer snap and subsequent off at Turns 9/10 simply earlier than the purple flag, did likewise and slotted into third shortly after the chequered flag fell.

However the normal lack of late private bests from the remainder set the next order at Leclerc in fourth forward of Tsunoda, Perez, Stroll, Carlos Sainz and Hamilton, who did lastly get a lap softs flier in on the finish of the session.

Residence heroes Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out and simply missed the highest 10 respectively within the tenth and eleventh, whereas Alonso ended up solely 18th having missed a lot of the center part of the motion when the ground on his Aston was changed following his early off.

F1 Australian GP – FP1 outcomes:

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