FP1: Verstappen sets the pace at Red Bull’s home track

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen up close, steering wheel angled. Spain May 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen up close, steering wheel angled. Spain May 2022

Max Verstappen dominated Friday’s practice at the Red Bull Ring, the only practice session that actually means anything, as Lando Norris and his smoking seat brought out the red flags as too did a piece of debris.

Hitting the front on his first hot lap on the medium tyres, Verstappen relinquished P1 for all of a few seconds and only because Ferrari did their soft tyre run before Red Bull.

He clocked a 1:06.302 to finish first practice at Red Bull’s home track 0.255s up on Charles Leclerc, George Russell was third.

From British fans to Red Bull’s faithful, five days after Carlos Sainz’s inaugural race victory, Formula 1 was back in action at the Red Bull Ring for the start of round 11 of the championship and a sprint race weekend in Austria.

Zhou Guanyu, in a new chassis after his huge Silverstone crash, was one of the first out for an installation lap with Alex Albon, who also crashed heavily, one of the last with his FW44’s parts having either been repaired or replaced.

With just one hour of practice before qualifying, the drivers were immediately into the action with Max Verstappen P1, a 1:07.7, and his team-mate Sergio Perez eating gravel as he got caught out by the Turn 4 tail wind.

Alpine driver Fernando Alonso went second ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Sainz practiced his overtaking against Perez, Lance Stroll had rear wing troubles and Pierre Gasly complained about his car moving on the straights and was told by AlphaTauri that it was because of “very high winds”.

Despite just nine corners in play, Daniel Ricciardo highlight the difficulties of the Red Bull Ring’s corners as he ran slightly wide, mounted the sausage kerb and it was notable how the edge of his floor took a battering from it.

Lewis Hamilton, down in 13th place, had an issue with Mercedes pit wall – a voice that wasn’t Pete Bonnington’s – as he was hit with a barrage of information, including “HPP9 Set Position 1”, and replied that he didn’t understand a word of what was said. He improved to P9 before pitting.

Seconds after Charles Leclerc jumped up to second place the red flags were out, Lando Norris having parked his MCL36 on the side of the track. Having previously told McLaren that the car was in limp home made, he returned to the action only to inform the team that it was “smoking from under my seat” and that he’d “rather get out”. Get out he did!

Back underway with 30 minutes to go Ferrari were out on the soft tyres, the first team to do so, Verstappen following suit. Leclerc hit the front with a 1:06.6, Sainz went second and then Verstappen blitzed them both with a 1:06.3. 0.348s faster than Leclerc.

Magnussen and his team-mate Mick Schumacher, eager to follow up Haas’ double points-haul with another, both went flying off the circuit with Magnussen up to P4 on his next hot lap. He was still on the mediums, faster than Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas who was on the soft tyres – the Finn will start Sunday’s race from the very back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

And then out came the second red of the session, debris on the racing line on the run down to Turn 7. The red flag stopped gave the marshals time to deliver Norris’ car to the McLaren garage.

Back underway George Russell shot up to third place ahead of Hamilton but a late lap from Perez split the Mercedes team-mates while Leclerc also improved his time but stayed P2, 0.255s down. Magnussen was sixth ahead of Sainz and Alonso. Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda completed the top ten, Verstappen to Tsunoda separated by a second.


1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:06.302 33 laps (s)
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.255s 30 laps (s)
3 George Russell Mercedes 0.400s 31 laps (s)
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.537s 25 laps (s)
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.607s 29 laps (s)
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 0.663s 31 laps (s)
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.737s 28 laps (s)
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.798s 31 laps (m)
9 Mick Schumacher Haas 0.944s 30 laps (s)
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 0.994s 31 laps (s)
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.129s 25 laps (s)
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.160s 26 laps (m)
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.174s 27 laps (s)
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 1.220s 25 laps (m)
15 Alex Albon Williams 1.280s 32 laps (s)
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.290s 32 laps (s)
17 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.441s 23 laps (m)
18 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1.587s 27 laps (s)
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1.847s 28 laps (s)
20 Lando Norris McLaren 3.613s 14 laps (m)