Spanish GP: Lando Norris tops FP1 as Charles Leclerc laments ‘horrendous’ Ferrari

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris in Imola

McLaren's Lando Norris

McLaren and Lando Norris made the perfect start to the Spanish Grand Prix by setting the pace in the opening practice session.

Max Verstappen brought the fight with 0.024s splitting the pair on the soft tyres, while the old-spec Ferrari was not giving Charles Leclerc much joy.

McLaren biggest threat to Red Bull at Spanish GP?

After the wet/dry conditions which dominated the Canadian Grand Prix, drivers were greeted by glorious sunshine in Barcelona for the start of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

There was just the one driver change for this session, as Oliver Bearman took over from Nico Hulkenberg at Haas for his second FP1 outing of the season.

The Ferrari SF-24s started decked out in flow-vis paint on the rear wing, the team having introduced a higher downforce model for this round, along with sidepod, diffuser and floor upgrades.

Sainz was using the new package for FP1 and Charles Leclerc the old spec for a direct comparison, though Sainz was soon reporting “no power” over the radio, Ferrari soon finding a mode to sort that.

But it was Red Bull’s Verstappen setting the early pace with a 1:15.424 on the hard Pirelli tyres, while team-mate Sergio Perez – in desperate need of a stronger showing this weekend – was told “we’ll have a talk in the garage” after querying the health of his throttle pedal due to understeering on exits.

Leclerc meanwhile claimed his Ferrari was feeling “horrendous” as he lapped north of six-tenths off Verstappen’s pace. Norris similarly listed off some negative feedback over his McLaren, with “entry instability” plaguing him through many corners as the session approached its halfway point.

Key Spanish Grand Prix talking points

👉 Red Bull and Ferrari upgrades revealed ahead of crucial Spanish GP test

👉 Flavio Briatore F1 return confirmed as new Alpine role revealed

From there the pace ramped up with the switch to the medium rubber, Sainz bettering Russell by just under two-tenths to go P1, before Verstappen returned to the front on a 1:14.252, three-tenths up on Sainz, but crucially, that was a lap set on the softs.

Perez, also running the red-walled softs, slotted into P3, four-tenths off his team-mate, while Russell had a dance with Tsunoda from left to right, Russell claiming Tsunoda “aimed for me” down the back straight as wires got crossed with Russell trying to get out of the way.

Now Norris fancied some of that soft-tyre action and wasted no time to impress, going P1 with a 1:14.228, while Bearman was enjoying that compound too, just two-tenths shy of team-mate for the session Kevin Magnussen.

That was followed though by the first appearance from the red flags of the weekend, Fernando Alonso shedding a piece of his Aston Martin front wing over the kerb at Turn 9. It was only a short delay to allow for that debris to be retrieved.

Heading into the final 15 minutes and Leclerc found Lance Stroll in the middle of the corner, apparently “as always”, before reporting a clutch issue as he returned to the Ferrari garage. Russell meanwhile got a “good question” response after asking Mercedes why he and Lewis Hamilton were sent back out onto the track at the same time.

For Pierre Gasly it was back to the pit lane, as he branded his Alpine A524 undriveable, while Verstappen’s clutch was “anti-stalling”, though he was in the clear to drive on.

Race simulations on the softs brought FP1 to a close as Norris topped the session from Verstappen by 0.024s, Sainz completing the top three.

FP1 timings

1 Lando NORRIS McLaren 1:14.228
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.024
3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.344
4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.386
5 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.464
6 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.639
7 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.683
8 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.858
9 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.994
10 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.189
11 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +1.206
12 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber +1.244
13 Pierre GASLY Alpine +1.256
14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.284
15 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +1.352
16 Guanyu ZHOU Kick Sauber +1.388
17 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.416
18 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.524
19 Oliver BEARMAN Haas F1 Team +1.637
20 Yuki TSUNODA RB +1.688

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