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Practice report

F1 Qatar GP: Verstappen tops slippery, windy practice from Sainz

Max Verstappen headed the sole Formula 1 practice session at the Qatar Grand Prix over Carlos Sainz, as low-grip conditions and high winds offered a stern challenge throughout.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen bolted on the soft tyres in the final part of the session to leapfrog long-time session leader Fernando Alonso, setting a 1m27.428s. The championship leader - who can sew up the title in Saturday's sprint race - then saw off an initial attempt from Charles Leclerc as the Monegasque suffered a snap of steering in his opening sector.

Sainz drew close with a 1m27.762s, but this was only good enough for second overall as Leclerc popped up into third on a second run with the soft tyres.

High winds and sandy residue on a new track surface contributed to a slippery circuit, causing Sainz to quip "my dad [rally champion Carlos Sainz Sr] would be quick in these conditions".

This ensured that the early times were well off the pace of F1's last visit to the Losail circuit in 2021, where Verstappen topped that FP1 session with a 1m23.723s. His ultimate pole time that year was a 1m20.827s, leaving him almost seven seconds short of that benchmark at the end of practice.

Fernando Alonso had topped the session ahead of the final half-hour, and his subsequent 1m27.919s was good enough to deliver fourth overall despite the obvious grip advantage of the softs around the refurbished Qatar circuit.

This was a tenth clear of Sergio Perez's time, as the Mexican could not get particularly close to his team-mate over the hour-long duration.

Yuki Tsunoda's late lap was enough to thrust the Japanese into sixth place overall, as AlphaTauri continued to show solid form after the introduction of its latest upgrade package in Singapore.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

This moved him ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who fired his Haas up the order having been one of the first to defect to the soft compound tyre towards the end of the session.

He beat the eighth-fastest George Russell, who spent much of the early running responsible for bringing down the ultimate pace as the circuit's layer of dust was slowly cleared by the circulating cars.

Russell had wound the times below the 90-second watermark on the hard compound tyre amid the difficulties with early grip levels, but did not set a lap on the soft tyres at the end to inflate his time.

He beat McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, who had fired their way to the top on the medium tyres just after the half-way mark before the later runners eclipsed them on better circuit conditions.

Williams pair Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon were 11th and 12th respectively after grabbing fast times on soft tyres, while Lewis Hamilton backed out of a hot lap after getting too far over the kerbs.

F1 Qatar GP - FP1 results

 
 
       
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 26 1'27.428   221.530
2 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 27 +0.334 0.334 220.687
3 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 27 +0.481 0.147 220.318
4 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 28 +0.491 0.010 220.293
5 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 24 +0.588 0.097 220.050
6 Japan Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri 22 AlphaTauri Red Bull 28 +0.599 0.011 220.023
7 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 22 +0.743 0.144 219.664
8 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 28 +0.908 0.165 219.253
9 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 20 +0.952 0.044 219.144
10 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 24 +1.013 0.061 218.993
11 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 25 +1.122 0.109 218.723
12 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 26 +1.162 0.040 218.625
13 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 26 +1.251 0.089 218.405
14 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 28 +1.262 0.011 218.378
15 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 25 +1.304 0.042 218.275
16 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 23 +1.393 0.089 218.056
17 Finland V. Bottas Alfa Romeo 77 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 27 +1.613 0.220 217.517
18 China Z. Guanyu Alfa Romeo 24 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 29 +1.678 0.065 217.359
19 New Zealand L. Lawson AlphaTauri 40 AlphaTauri Red Bull 29 +1.810 0.132 217.037
20 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 26 +2.074 0.264 216.397

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