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Practice report
Formula 1 Australian GP

F1 Australian GP: Norris fastest in FP1 as Albon brings out red flag

Lando Norris led Max Verstappen and George Russell in first practice for Formula 1’s 2024 Australian Grand Prix, which was disrupted by a big crash for Williams driver Alex Albon.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Fernando Alonso led the pack out of the pits with a large aerodynamic-load measuring device fitted to the front of his Aston Martin and its new front wing, but it was George Russell who initially set the first-place benchmark at 1m30.214s.

This was, however, almost 10s off the early pace and Russell was quickly shuffled back during the early running – where both Mercedes drivers complained about long brake pedals and the circuit surface gained grip as it cleaned up and had rubber laid down upon it.

The top spot changed hands throughout the opening third of the one-hour session, where only Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc ran the softs from the off, with the rest on mediums.

Perez and Leclerc exchanged quickest times on the red-walled rubber, with the former running an unbroken initial stint, while the latter joined Verstappen in making a trip to the pits for quick adjustments.

Leclerc took his first set of softs back to the top spot on a 1m19.110s at the 15-minute mark, just before Verstappen beat that with a 1m18.670s and a lull in action then followed.

The most notable moments in the next phase were Yuki Tsunoda putting his medium-shod RB in between the two early leaders and Alonso losing the rear of his car through the Turn 10 high-speed right that follows Turn 9 at the end of the meandering, fast walled run from Turn 6 and skating across the exit gravel at high-speed before returning to the pits.

Just before the halfway point, with most of the cars still in the pits during the lull, Norris moved into first place with McLarens first run on the C5 softs, which were barely used by any team during Bahrain pre-season testing, on a 1m18.564s.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

As the pack headed out in dribs and drabs through the start of the session’s second half, the majority ran softs and were able to edge ahead of the initial frontrunners.

This included Lance Stroll, who edged ahead of Verstappen – the Red Bull having headed back out at this stage on the same set of softs and not going any quicker – and Tsunoda again, by this stage running the softs.

As the final third kicked off, Leclerc slotted in a personal best on the second flier of his second set of softs to sit just 0.035s behind Norris, just before the session was suspended by Albon’s big crash.

The Williams driver’s FW44 snapped violently right after he ran hard over the Turn 7 inside kerb, which pitched him rapidly into the wall before he bounced back across the track to hit the opposite wall, smashing both sides of the car.

This showered debris over a long section of this high-speed blast and the session did not resume until just nine minutes remained, once the pieces had been gathered and the Williams removed – Albon having been quickly collected by the medical car but having declared himself “ok”.

All the cars headed back of the final run to the flag, with most staying on used softs that they struggled to warm in the relatively cool Melbourne conditions.

This led to a series of offs from high-profile drivers – Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1 on his first softs flier of the session, Verstappen at the exit of Turn 10 when he was on track to topple Norris, and Perez at the penultimate corner just as he was about to set a personal best.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Mark Horsburgh / Motorsport Images

Verstappen had enough time to go for a final flier in the last minute, where he jumped to second and 0.018s off Norris – but without setting a personal best.

Russell, who had lost his first softs run saving a massive oversteer snap and subsequent off at Turns 9/10 just before the red flag, did likewise and slotted into third shortly after the chequered flag fell.

But the general lack of late personal bests from the rest set the following order at Leclerc in fourth ahead of Tsunoda, Perez, Stroll, Carlos Sainz and Hamilton, who did finally get a lap softs flier in at the end of the session.

Home heroes Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out and just missed the top 10 respectively in the 10th and 11th, while Alonso ended up only 18th having missed most of the middle phase of the action when the floor on his Aston was replaced following his early off.

F1 Australian GP - FP1 results:

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 23

1'18.564

  241.851
2 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 19

+0.018

1'18.582

0.018 241.795
3 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 21

+0.033

1'18.597

0.015 241.749
4 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 22

+0.035

1'18.599

0.002 241.743
5 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 26

+0.057

1'18.621

0.022 241.675
6 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 23

+0.078

1'18.642

0.021 241.611
7 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 26

+0.103

1'18.667

0.025 241.534
8 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 23

+0.122

1'18.686

0.019 241.476
9 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 20

+0.207

1'18.771

0.085 241.215
10 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 25

+0.354

1'18.918

0.147 240.766
11 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 25

+0.710

1'19.274

0.356 239.685
12 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 11

+0.879

1'19.443

0.169 239.175
13 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 21

+0.925

1'19.489

0.046 239.036
14 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 22

+0.955

1'19.519

0.030 238.946
15 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 25

+0.997

1'19.561

0.042 238.820
16 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 21

+1.040

1'19.604

0.043 238.691
17 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 25

+1.058

1'19.622

0.018 238.637
18 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 16

+1.152

1'19.716

0.094 238.356
19 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 23

+1.425

1'19.989

0.273 237.542
20 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 21

+1.450

1'20.014

0.025 237.468

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