Championship leader Charles Leclerc took first place in an early practice session which saw the teams experiment and evaluate their cars ahead of the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix – with Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz and Red’s Max Verstappen Bull completing the top three.
Eagle eyes have been trained closely on FP1 cars to spot any new upgrades, as Williams, Aston Martin, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari have brought significant packages to their respective cars. As a result, flowing paint and aerodynamic rakes appeared on the machines early on that sweltering Barcelona afternoon.
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Times dropped after Verstappen set the first benchmark on the hard tyres, with the peloton emerging on the softs towards the halfway point for Leclerc to set the fastest lap of 1m 19.828s – 0.079s quicker than Sainz. The Scuderia package included a new rear wing for Spain.
With Ferrari firing at the top, Verstappen improved to third on the softs for Red Bull – 0.336 seconds off the pace – after having a new nose fitted to his car early on.
Running of the red bulls
Mercedes fitted new engines to both of its drivers’ cars – with both sporting new parts around the floor – with Lewis Hamilton also getting a new gearbox this weekend (no penalty applied). George Russell was fourth while Hamilton was sixth, the last driver within a second of Leclerc.
Between the Silver Arrows was Fernando Alonso, with the Alpine rider completing the top five on home soil.
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McLaren’s Lando Norris – also testing a suite of parts – was seventh and two tenths ahead of eighth-placed AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly. AlphaTauri has stripped the paint from their liveries in an apparent weight saving exercise, also bringing new rear fenders to Spain.
Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10, behind ninth-placed McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo. Esteban Ocon previously dubbed Spain his “half” home race, given that his father and extended family live here, and finished 11th in FP1 for Alpine.
Behind Ocon was Lance Stroll, 12th. Aston Martin broke curfew on Thursday and spent the long night upgrading its AMR22 cars, the revised sidepods the clearest indication of a new direction for the team in green. Sebastian Vettel finished 16th in this session.
Alfa Romeo ran reserve driver Robert Kubica in place of Zhou Guanyu for FP1, with the veteran Pole finishing 13th – while Valtteri Bottas took 17th.
Then come the Haas drivers, Kevin Magnussen 14th ahead of Mick Schumacher. Their upgrades are for the French Grand Prix, rather than Spain.
In place of Alex Albon at Williams, Nyck De Vries, Formula E driver and Mercedes F1 reserve, finished 18th. In a fortuitous homage to Albon’s hair, Nicholas Latifi applied fluid red paint to his car early on, with the Canadian taking 19th place.
Juri Vips has a packed schedule, having finished sixth in F2 testing earlier before taking over Red Bull from Sergio Perez for F1 FP1. He completed the practice program to finish 20th – and is now preparing for F2 qualifying at 6.30pm local time.
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FP1 Highlights: Spanish Grand Prix