Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen leads sole practice session despite stopping on track · RaceFans

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2024

Max Verstappen was quickest in the sole practice session at the Red Bull Ring, but only after a scare when he was forced to stop on track.

The championship leader set the pace with a 1’05.685 on used medium tyres to go quickest ahead of Oscar Piastri and the two Ferrari drivers. Lando Norris spoiled his sole flying lap with a mistake.

Verstappen was forced to stop on track halfway through the session with an apparent problem, which brought out the red flags. However, he was brought back into the garage before rejoining the session soon after, where he was able to set the fastest time.

Comfortably warm, dry conditions awaited drivers for the one and only hour of open practice for the weekend at the Red Bull Ring. Naturally, with such limited time to test parts and car set-up, there was plenty of early running as teams ran on a variety of compound in the early session.

Mercedes opted for the hard tyres for both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell for their first runs of the session and the pair used them to set the early pace with Hamilton quickest with a 1’06.254. That was just a tenth quicker than his team mate with Verstappen third, three tenths slower.

The field of 20 cars returned to the pits just before the half hour mark to adjust their car settings before returning back out on track. However, soon after heading back out, Verstappen suddenly slowed to a halt along the pit straight before being instructed to stop the car.

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Verstappen’s stoppage brought out the red flag while he was pushed back into the pit lane and the garage. However, it did not take long before he was back out on track, indicating the problem was only minor.

The new gravel strips at the exit of turns nine and ten appeared to serve their purpose of discouraging drivers from running too wide as there were no major excursions out onto the hew hazard through the session. Traffic was a concern, however, with Yuki Tsunoda complaining that he almost collided with Alexander Albon who almost verged off the racing line into the path of the RB driver on the run to turn nine.

In the final minutes, Verstappen returned on track with the same set of medium tyres he had previously been running on and improved to go quickest of all with a 1’05.685. Piastri also improved to go second behind the Red Bull in his McLaren, but did so on a used set of hard tyres.

When the chequered flag flew, Verstappen was confirmed as fastest heading…

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