Max Verstappen started strong in the first free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, edging out Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. Verstappen kicked off with soft tyres, while Perez spent the opening round getting accustomed to mediums. Despite the back-to-back victories in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Red Bull continued where they left off in FP1. Verstappen was the clear leader, but the team’s early laps also unveiled the new upgrades they brought to the Albert Park Circuit. Meanwhile, Mercedes ran floor edge vanes in their “soon-to-be-revised W14” for the race, though there were no fresh developments for Ferrari and Aston Martin.
The reigning double world champion, Verstappen, enjoyed a comfortable advantage in 1m 18.790s, but he experienced some minor issues with his car, including terrible gear shifts, rear brake trouble, and unexpected spins. Hamilton saved a huge slide at Turn 9 to deliver a late improvement on softs and finished ahead of both Red Bull drivers. The Ferraris and two Astons followed.
Despite Verstappen’s stronghold, there were plenty of moments during the event: a lack of GPS technology led to some confusion and near-misses, and several red flags halted the session. However, this practice session gave a glimpse of what’s coming next for Formula One fans during the Australian Grand Prix, promising an action-packed weekend to look forward to.
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