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Sainz and Leclerc quickest in opening session


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 41 degrees. It is overcast and very, very windy, which is going to come as bad news to a number of teams, not least Ferrari. There is also a 20% chance of rain.

In terms of upgrades, Haas has a new circuit specific front wing... and that is it.

The lights go green and Verstappen leads the way, followed by Stroll, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

As more drivers emerge most are on hards.

"There is a screw on my front tyre," reports Ocon.

Clearly keen to get on with it, Verstappen posts the first time of the weekend, crossing the line at 13.950. Stroll can only manage 15.574.

Soon all bar Ricciardo and the Williams pair are on track, as Perez goes second, 10.016s off his teammate's pace.

Norris splits the Bulls with a 14.560, while Alonso goes fourth ahead of Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Bottas.

"My seat is flexing," reports Verstappen but he is told to stay out.

Leclerc goes second (14.179), ahead of Gasly and Stroll.

Ricciardo heads out, leaving the Williams pair as the only no-shows.

Verstappen improve to 13.138 as Perez posts a 13.531.

Alonso improves with a 13.855 as Piastri reports that his right mirror is broken.

Perez improves to 13.163, just 0.025s off his teammate's pace.

With 48 minutes remaining the Williams pair head out.

Hamilton goes third with a 13.456, ahead of Russell, Alonso and Bottas.

Sargeant runs wide at Turn 1 as Sainz has a wobble and gets very out of shape.

"My rear tyres give up," says Perez.

A 13.699 sees Hulkenberg go fourth, ahead of Russell, Norris and Leclerc.

Russell improves to third with a 13.204, 0.066s off Verstappen's best. "Very weak out of 8 and 10," he reports.

"We have a (rear-left) puncture," Alonso is told. The Spaniard subsequently pits.

As Piastri locks-up at the pitlane entrance as Tsunoda is the first to switch to mediums. The Japanese subsequently goes quickest with a 12.802.

Tsunoda's teammate, Ricciardo is currently in the garage after incurring floor damage.

Russell heads out having switched to the yellow-banded rubber. He immediately goes quickest in the opening sector, finally crossing the line at 11.865.

On the hards Alonso improves to second with a 12.615.

With just under half an hour remaining, Magnussen fits a set of softs.

Hulkenberg and Norris clash when the McLaren drivers encounters a dawdling Haas on the racing line, the German turning into the Briton who was on a fast lap.

On the softs, Magnussen goes third (12.663).

"We're still lacking front end... a lot," reports Ocon, who goes on to list a number of corners.

Despite that incident, which has been noted by the stewards, Hulkenberg goes second with an 11.928.

Not content with that clash with Norris, Hulkenberg has a little race with Perez.

Both Ferrari drivers are putting the laps in, both currently on 24.

"What just happened," asks Sargeant after going off at Turn 1 and missing the entire opening complex, "I was completely off the ground."

Meanwhile, teammate Albon fits the softs.

"Something's wrong with the front-left, man," says Sargeant, who goes on to post a personal best.

Albon goes third with a 12.044, while Stroll goes fourth (12.136) on the mediums.

"I'm driving around with two wheels, man, the fronts are off the ground everywhere," says Sargeant. And indeed they are.

"Just be aware, it is quite dusty out there," Verstappen is warned.

As the stewards confirm that they are to investigate the Hulkenberg incident, Piastri aborts his lap after going quickest in the first two sectors.

Hamilton improves to seventh (12.638) on the mediums, but is demoted when Gasly goes fifth (12.184).

"Lost power," says Hulkenberg. "I went over the kerb in Turn 4."

Zhou (softs) goes sixth with a 14.481.

With less than 5 minutes remaining, the Ferrari pair head out on softs.

Mercedes sticks with mediums and Red Bull with hards. Piastri, having aborted his soft run, is back on mediums, as is his McLaren teammate.

Leclerc has a poor opening sector and aborts the lap while teammate Sainz goes quickest with an 11.732.

On his next flyer, Leclerc goes second with an 11.840.

Bottas goes wide in Turn 1 having been distracted by his Alfa teammate.

Leclerc complains of front locking.

As Verstappen complains about the wind, the session ends. However, there is a little argy-bargy between the alpine drivers. "What's Esteban doing," asks Gasly. "Esteban has backed off," he is told. "Yeah, but I'm pushing, guys. For **** ****, just useless!" "We'll discuss after the session," he is told.

Sainz is quickest, ahead of Leclerc, Russell, Hulkenberg, Albon, Stroll, Gasly, Zhou, Sargeant and Magnussen.

Alonso is eleventh, ahead of Hamilton, Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Ocon, Verstappen, Bottas, Perez, Norris and Piastri.

However, what to make of it, God alone knows, for while Ferrari has shown its hand, we have no idea where Red Bull, Mercedes or McLaren stand, though all appear confident enough not to bother with the softs, Red Bull not even bothering with the mediums.

A strange but interesting session.

Check out our Friday gallery from Interlagos City here.


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