Practice report

F1 Brazilian GP: Perez leads Leclerc in opening practice

Sergio Perez led Charles Leclerc in opening practice for Formula 1’s 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, as Red Bull and Ferrari diverged in their sole preparation for the event’s qualifying session.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Perez ended up just 0.004s clear of Leclerc, with Max Verstappen third ahead of Carlos Sainz and Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

With just the one hour of practice running to get in before Friday’s qualifying session for the final sprint weekend of 2022, the pack headed out en masse at the start – their running split across the hard and medium compounds.

Kevin Magnussen, running at the head of the snake out of the pits, duly set the first place benchmark at 1m16.443s on the hards before a flurry of faster times shuffled the Haas driver back.

After Hamilton had bested Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon on their respective first runs, Perez brought the benchmark under the 1m15s bracket for the first time just before the end of the opening five minutes.

He then beat his first time of 1m14.616s with a 1m14.477s on his next lap on the hards, before Verstappen, who abandoned his first flier having slipped off at Turn 4, where he so controversially defended against Hamilton in last year’s GP at Interlagos, forged ahead.

Verstappen’s 1m14.104s stood as the benchmark overall and for the hard runners for a few minutes before Bottas set the quickest time on the mediums just before the end of the first 10 minutes with a 1m13.807s.

As Verstappen continued to pound around on the hards he bested Bottas again with a 1m13.646s and then a 1m13.575s as the session’s opening quarter ended and the pack headed back to the pits to make adjustments.

A lull in action followed before Perez became the first driver to head out on the softs with 25 minutes completed.

He shot ahead with a 1m11.853s despite running hard over the kerbs between Turns 4 and 5 and nearly bottoming out – the Mexican driver also enjoying a near-empty track as most of his rivals continued to sit in the pits.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen was the next runner to complete a softs flier at the session’s halfway point, with the world champion setting the a purple first sector before fading back compared to Perez and ending up 0.008s adrift on a 1m11.861s, complaining that his car “doesn’t turn” as he was “just waiting for the fronts”.

Here the teams diverged on their run plans, with Ferrari and Mercedes sending Hamilton and Leclerc back out to log laps on the mediums, while Sainz remained in the pits, as did Russell initially before he also re-emerged on the yellow-walled rubber.

Leclerc used his mediums to move up to third and run 0.5s off the pace, before Perez went again for a second run on the softs that ended up just under a tenth slower than his leading time.

Just after Sainz had moved ahead of Leclerc to run third 0.2s slower than Perez but still using the mediums, Verstappen completed a second softs run after making adjustments in the pits, but it left him nearly a quarter-of-a-second off his team-mate’s time.

Heading into the final 15 minutes, with the Ferrari drivers still pounding around on the mediums, Russell jumped up to fourth with his first run on the softs – he and Hamilton having be languishing near the foot of the times with their efforts on the harder compounds.

Russell’s time came in 0.336s slower than Perez, who, along with Verstappen was conducting high fuel running on the softs as the session’s end approached.

With just under 10 minutes remaining, Hamilton went for his first run on the softs but had to abandon it after going too wide over the Turn 7 exit kerbs and locking his left-front on the approach to Turn 8 and sliding deep.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

After this, Russell, having completed a cooldown lap on his softs, went again and jump ahead of Sainz’s best time on the mediums to close to 0.202s off Perez.

Hamilton prepared for another attempt on the softs and then on his second flier popped Russell to sit 0.187s behind the top time.

Then, with only five minutes remaining, the Ferrari drivers finally showed their hand on the softs.

Sainz went first, slotting in just 0.001s ahead of Hamilton in third, before both were demoted by Leclerc’s first effort on the softs.

Having set a personal best second sector that had him up on Perez’s leading time, Leclerc lost nearly a quarter-of-a-second in the final sector to end up second 0.004s behind on a 1m11.857s.

Leclerc was not done, going for a final effort in the closing minutes, but on a second softs flier he ended up fractionally slower than his own personal best to remain just adrift of the top spot.

His late improvements meant Verstappen finished third ahead of Sainz and the Mercedes pair, who were followed by Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, as Bottas and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10.

In a notable moment during the early running, Sainz, who will take a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s GP for running a new internal combustion engine element, bounced off the Turn 3 exit kerb going around Lando Norris’s outside in a move that displeased the Ferrari driver.

Norris finished the session in 15th while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo brought up the rear of the field.

F1 Brazilian Grand Prix - FP1 results

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap Interval
1 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 29 1'11.853    
2 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 31 1'11.857 0.004 0.004
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 28 1'11.861 0.008 0.004
4 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 30 1'12.039 0.186 0.178
5 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25 1'12.040 0.187 0.001
6 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 24 1'12.055 0.202 0.015
7 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 30 1'12.157 0.304 0.102
8 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 27 1'12.314 0.461 0.157
9 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 31 1'12.466 0.613 0.152
10 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 32 1'12.467 0.614 0.001
11 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 25 1'12.554 0.701 0.087
12 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 29 1'12.633 0.780 0.079
13 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 30 1'12.705 0.852 0.072
14 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 26 1'12.759 0.906 0.054
15 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 28 1'12.955 1.102 0.196
16 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 25 1'12.997 1.144 0.042
17 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 32 1'13.019 1.166 0.022
18 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 30 1'13.115 1.262 0.096
19 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 32 1'13.347 1.494 0.232
20 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 28 1'13.359 1.506 0.012
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