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Verstappen sets opening pace in Austria


Ahead of today's opening session, the air temperature is 17.5 degrees C, while the track temperature is 31.4 degrees. There is a 40% chance of rain.

While we were here only seven days ago - much like last year - one of the main differences is that the tyres on offer from Pirelli are a step softer than last weekend. Indeed, the Italian manufacturer has brought the softest tyres in its range.

Talking of tyres, though the incidents in Baku, whereby both Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen suffered rear tyre failures, which were absolutely nothing to do with Pirelli, today each driver will have access to two sets of a new construction rear tyre which will be introduced at Silverstone in two weeks. Over the course of the two sessions the drivers must complete 12 timed laps on the new tyres, which will obviously compromise their race preparations.

There are three reserve drivers on duty this morning, Roy Nissany at Williams, Callum Ilott at Alfa Romeo and Guanyu Zhou at Alpine, the Chinese driver making his FP1 debut.

Following last week's trouncing, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton will be looking to hit back, while Red Bull and Max Verstappen will want to continue that winning run.

Vettel is first out, the German sporting the test tyres, he is followed by Sainz, Latifi, Raikkonen and Perez. A mixture of all four compounds.

In no time at all there are 19 drivers on duty, Zhou the only driver yet to appear.

Nissany told that there is an issue and he will need to sync his gears manually.

Of the first wave, Gasly goes quickest on the mediums, but this is subsequently deleted. Consequently, Verstappen (softs) is quickest, ahead of Perez, Leclerc and Sainz, both Ferrari drivers on hards.

Next time around Gasly keeps it legal and goes top with a 6.054, as teammate Tsunoda goes off at Turn 5.

"More push, more push," Ilott is told.

While the Bulls continue on softs, the Mercedes pair are on the prototypes.

Indeed, Hamilton has three successive lap times deleted.

Before switching to the proto tyres, Verstappen raises the bar with a 6.007 as Stroll goes cross-country following a big spin at Turn 6.

On the protos, Perez goes quickest in the first two sectors, and despite losing time in S3 he improves to 6.031.

Verstappen also improves on the new tyres, the championship leader stopping the clock at 5.558.

Ricciardo's engineer continues to talk the Australian through his laps.

"F****** idiot," snarls Raikkonen as he is forced wide after coming across a very slow Mazepin entering the pitlane.

Gasly improves to 5.740 on the protos, ahead of Perez, Tsunoda, Raikkonen and Ocon, all of whom have posted their best times on the experimental rubber.

Ricciardo is advised to brake later in Turns 2 and 3.

On the mediums, Zhou improves to 15, ahead of Ilott, Mazepin and the Mercedes pair!

Leclerc goes wide in Turn 1, the youngster reporting that he doesn't understand what the problem is as this isn't the first time. "I'm struggling like crazy at the first corner," he reports.

A spin for Stroll in the final corner, the Canadian doing well to keep it out of the barriers. On the pit-wall Otmar Szafnauer shakes his head.

Ilott improves to 13th with a 6.783, just 0.2s off teammate Raikkonen's best.

On the softs, Tsunoda goes quickest with a 5.474 but is soon eclipsed by Verstappen (5.143).

Hamilton (softs) goes 5th with a 5.892 as Bottas posts a 6.141 to go tenth.

Hamilton almost trips up over a very, very slow Mazepin in Turn 1, the Russian having previously spun at Turn 3.

Leclerc improves to second with a 5.409, just ahead of his Ferrari teammate (5.431).

Quickest in S2, Bottas goes 5th overall (5.495), as Gasly complains about "f****** traffic everywhere" and nobody "giving a f***".

"An idiot this guy," Tsunoda says of Nissany.

All in all it's a pretty lacklustre session, though it isn't clear whether this is because of the prototype tyres or the fact that we were here only seven days ago.

Another off for Mazepin at Turn 1, the Russian lucky not to clout the barriers.

All 20 drivers are on track, Latifi has completed the most laps (30), ahead of Verstappen (28), Tsunoda and Gasly (27).

Raikkonen (5.586) remains sixth, ahead of Hamilton. Mazepin is last, behind Nissany.

Leclerc continues to struggle in Turn 1, as Verstappen is told to watch his rear-left temperatures.

"These tyres are nowhere near ready," complains Hamilton, as teammate Bottas runs wide in Turn 1.

Leclerc makes a late switch to the proto tyres.

Verstappen and Norris appear to think it's Sunday afternoon, Mazepin goes to great pains to get out of their way.

The session ends. Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Leclerc, Sainz, Bottas, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Perez, Gasly and Norris.

Ocon is eleventh, ahead of Ricciardo, Stroll, Zhou, Vettel, Ilott, Schumacher, Nissany, Latifi and Mazepin.

Check out our Friday gallery from Spielberg, here.


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