FP1: Albon quickest… and then crashes

Michelle Foster
Alex Albon

Alex Albon

The Brazilian GP weekend got off to a soggy and slow start with Alexander Albon setting the pace in FP1 before crashing and bringing out the red flags.

With the rain bucketing down in the build-up to FP1, it was clear from the get-go that it would be a slow start to the session.

Ferrari and Alfa Romeo opted for early installation laps on the full wets with the rain abating 15 minutes into FP1.

That, though, didn’t bring forth a flurry of activity as the rivers continued to run across the Interlagos circuit.

Carlos Sainz posted the first lap time, a 1:22.1 on the wets, 25 minutes into the session with Charles Leclerc, who has a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change, adding his name to the list some 10 minutes later.

He posted a 1:21.9 while Lando Norris went third and Pierre Gasly P4. All four drivers used the full wet tyres.

Shortly after Leclerc swapped to the intermediate tyres, upping his pace to a 1:17.2, while Sebastian Vettel, who set his first lap time on the full wets, went second after swapping to inters.

There were just eight times on the board at the halfway point.

As the track conditions continued to improve, more drivers ventured out with Nico Hulkenberg upping his pace to sit third behind the Ferraris ahead of Sainz and Gasly.

Vettel, having done a slow down lap to cool his inters, took over from Leclerc at the top with a 1:17.0. Daniel Ricciardo slipped and slid his way to fifth behind his Renault team-mate.

Heading into the final 30 minutes seven drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, had yet to set times.

Bottas was the first of the seven to do so, jumping up to P1 before Alexander Albon took it off him.

But, with the track drying fast, there was a mad dash in the final seven minutes as drivers headed out on slick tyres for the first time.

Verstappen spun at the entrance to the Senna Esses but it was his team-mate Albon, sitting up in P1, who brought the session to an end as he crashed at the Juncao corner. The red flags came out and FP1 was over.

Albon still finished fastest of all ahead of Bottas, Vettel and Leclerc with Sainz and Hulkenberg completing the top six.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez did not set times.

1 Alex Albon Red Bull 1:16.142
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.551s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.899s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.143s
5 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.644s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.757s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.843s
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1.958s
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 2.132s
10 Lando Norris McLaren 2.417s
11 George Russell Williams 2.637s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 3.105s
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 3.272s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 3.390s
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 3.458s
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams 3.868s
17 Romain Grosjean Haas
18 Sergio Perez Racing Point
19 Max Verstappen Red Bull
20 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

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