Verstappen and Perez comfortably lead Spanish GP first practice

© XPB 

Max Verstappen picked up in Barcelona where he left off last weekend in Monaco, the Dutchman leading a Red Bull 1-2 in Friday's first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen required little time to pump himself up as he edged Sergio Perez by 0.768s.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon carried his Monaco form to the Circuit d Catalunya, the Frenchman setting the third fastest time, 0.812s adrift from the session's pace setter.

Nyck de Vries enjoyed a surprising and promising start to his race weekend by setting the foruth quickest lap, just ahead of Pierre Gasly who rounded off the top five.

The main talking points in the F1 paddock in Barcelona were the track's layout modification with the suppression of the final chicane complex and the upgrades that various teams, and especially Ferrari, have brought in their crates.

Friday's practice sessions have and will offer drivers an opportunity to sample the new, more robust Pirelli tyre that will be used from next month's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.


Each driver has received two sets of the hard compound tyre to test at any point in FP1 or FP2.

Fernando Alonso's first exploratory lap, onboard an Aston equipped with an array of aero rakes, was greeted with loud cheers from the grandstands, proving that the rejuvenated two-time world champion remains Spain's favorite son in F1.

The field lost no time getting down to business as traffic was dense at the outset, with Verstappen and Perez running on the medium tyre trading places at the top.

Red Bull's usual rivals were slow to kick into gear, but Sainz – the sole recipient of Ferrari's new bodywork – was the first of the front-runners to join the bulls up front. The Scuderia charger was quickly followed by Alonso just before Gasly slotted into second.

As the session neared its halfway point, Verstappen lowered his benchmark time to 1m15.945s, leaving Gasly 0.418s adrift.

Several drivers, including Perez, Russell and Norris radioed in to complain of bouncing and bottoming through the final corner.

The soft-shod Mexican pushed to the top, albeit very briefly as Verstappen once again went quickest. But Kevin Magnussen, also running on the softs, popped up to P3, just edging Gasly and Ocon.

However, the group was overhauled in short order by Alfa Romeo's duo of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, but the pair were still 1.3s behind Verstappen.

Soon it was Sainz and Norris' turn to challenge the bulls, but the duo was equally unsuccessful in bridging the gap setting the third and fourth quickest time.


As the session entered its final 15 minutes, the permutations continued, with de Vries' best effort landing him a spot in P3, in front of Leclerc and Sainz. Again, the Dutchman's spot was short-lived as Ocon bumped the AlphaTauri charger down to fourth.

Ominous dark clouds began to roll in thick and fast, clouding – pun intended – Barcelona's weather prospects for FP2.

But the first session of the day remained dry to the end with Red Bull comfortably leading the field from Ocon, a surprising de Vries, Gasly and Alonso who rounded off the top six.

Thereafter followed Magnussen, Leclerc, Sainz and Russell who completed the top ten.

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