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Spanish GP FP1: Norris fastest, Verstappen chases

Spanish GP FP1: Norris fastest, Verstappen chases

Spanish GP FP1: Norris fastest, Verstappen chases

Lando Norris topped the first practice session for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, edging out Max Verstappen who was a fraction behind in second.

However, it was a clean first session for the reigning Formula 1 Champion, unlike the past few races where he had shaky starts to his race weekends.

There was nothing to choose between Verstappen and Norris, 0.024s, as Red Bull and McLaren were the only two top teams who did qualifying runs on Soft tyres as Mercedes and Ferrari kept their powder dry, running Medium and Hard tyres only.

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No surprise here, as Red Bull were expected to do well in Barcelona and the same applying for McLaren, while Ferrari’s form remains unknown for now, despite Sainz not being far off in third and on Medium tyres.

As such, Sainz was third fastest in the Ferrari, ahead of George Russell in fourth and Sergio Perez in fifth. Oscar Piastri was sixth fastest ahead of Lewis Hamilton in seventh.

Esteban Ocon was eighth ahead of ninth-placed Fernando Alonso, with Alex Albon tenth fastest in the Williams.

Charles Leclerc was 11th fastest while Yuki Tsunoda in the heavily upgraded VCARB was last after spending more time than ideal in the garage, the team seemingly sorting out teething problems with their revised package.

Buildup towards FP1

F1 gears up for the Spanish GP this weekend, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the ultimate test for the quality of an F1 car, and with that said, there is so much to look forward to.

Will Red Bull be back on top again at a classic F1 track, and will they prove their recent struggles are kerb-related issues? How will McLaren fare with their vastly improved MCL38? Will Ferrari bounce back? And was Mercedes’ Canadian GP form genuine?

With Barcelona being the best track for testing upgrades, various teams have brought upgrades, some major some minor.

Red Bull have some upgrades this weekend: A revised sidepod inlet, a revised engine cover and coke body, a new floor body, a new beam wing and new rear wing end plates.

Ferrari on the other hand have a new rear wing, new coke/engine cover, new floor fences, new floor body, new floor edge, a revised diffuser, and a tweaked Halo.

The third team to have a major upgrade package is VCARB who have brought: A revised front brake duct (Pre-Monaco spec), a new coke/engine cover, a new sidepod inlet, a new floor body, a new rear wing, and a new beam wing.

Aston Martin have a new front suspension, a revised front brake duct scoop, and a new lower deflector position with a different lower edge trim applied on the rear corner of the car.

Sauber have a revised front brake duct exit and a revised rear wing with Haas having a revised rear crash structure with a up-washing flick on RIS trailing edge.

Mercedes did not have any visible upgrades, just under the skin modifications related to weight reduction and new materials.

On the driver front, Oliver Bearman replaces Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas for FP1.

Bearman seems to be on his way to an F1 promotion in 2025, replacing Audi-bound Hulkenberg at the American team, so more practice will do him well.

In terms of tyres, Pirelli have brought their hardest range of tyres this weekend: C1 (Hard), C2 (Medium) and C3 (Soft).

FP1 Session Highlights

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The session started in clear and sunny conditions, track temperatures registering 46 degrees Celsius with the air temperature at 28 degrees.

The drivers were out on a combination of Hard and Medium tyres for the start of the session with some car sporting aero rakes to test their new parts.

There was no slacking off at the start of FP1 as drivers lined up in the pitlane waiting for the green light at the exit to head out and start their weekend in earnest.

Sainz, ten minutes into the session, reports lack of power and was advised by his team to change some settings on his steering wheel.

“No power, no power,” Sainz radios and the response is: “Multi-function strat, position one, and all will be fine.”

Almost 15 minutes into the session, Bearman hit the kerb at Turn 9 hard with his Haas but no carbon fiber from the car’s floor seems to fly away.

Early on, Tsunoda’s RB is in the garage, the engine cover is off and the mechanics are hard at work on it.

With 20 minutes passing, all drivers, except for Valtteri Bottas, Alonso, and Pierre Gasly, have set times.

Leclerc on the other hand had a hug moment coming out of Turn 12, losing the rear end but masterfully keeping it on track. He reports: “The car is horrendous for now.”

Perez complained about understeering and asked his team if something was wrong with his throttle pedal, and his engineer told him they “will have a talk in the garage”.

Norris also has a moment in the penultimate corner and complain to his team about “pretty poor grip”.

Halfway into the session, Verstappen led the timesheets from Russell, Sainz third, then Norris, and Hamilton with Leclerc sixth. Piastri followed ahead of Perez and Ocon with Tsunoda tenth.

The second half of the session saw the Soft tyres make and appearance with Red Bull VCARB, McLaren, and Haas.

With 21 minutes remaining, the first Red Flag of the weekend was out as Alonso hit the kerb hard at Turn 9, breaking part of the front wing. The session was stopped to retrieve the Aston Martin debris.

The Red Flag however was a brief one and the session was soon underway again while Aston Martin started working on Alonso’s car, repairing the damage.

Leclerc had a moment with Lance Stroll almost 13 minutes from the end, the Canadian leisurely driving in the middle of Turn 11, the Monegasque evidently not impressed.

“Just in the middle of the corner as always,” Leclerc sarcastically says about Stroll.

The Ferrari soon reports something “Strange” with the clutch, he told his team: “There was something strange with the clutch when I came in. The rear tyres locked up completely then went again when I stopped.”

Mercedes had a bit of a mess, sending their drivers out at the same time, Russell complaining: “Why have you put us on track at the exact same point?”

“It’s a good question,” his engineer responds…

The final ten minutes saw the drivers switch back to long runs, and Gasly soon reports something wrong with the car, and asks to box, saying he cannot drive it.

Verstappen on the other hand soon reports his clutch keeps anti-stalling.

The session was concluded with practice starts after the race simulations were done.

How they finished

Norris posted a 1:14.228 to go fastest and was 0.024s ahead of Verstappen in second and 0.344s ahead of Sainz in third, the latter posting his time on Medium Pirellis, the former two running the Softs.

Russell was 0.386s off the pace in fourth and 0.078s ahead of Perez who was fifth fastest in the other Red Bull RB20.

Piastri was 0.639s off the pace of his teammate in sixth and 0.044s ahead Hamilton in seventh the Briton, 0.175s ahead of Ocon in eighth.

Alonso was 0.994s off the best time in ninth and 0.195s ahead of Albon in tenth.

Spanish GP FP1 Classification

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