Spanish GP 2024

JUNE 21, 2024

Practice 1 Report - Norris edges Verstappen

Lando Norris
© McLaren

Lando Norris narrowly beat Max Verstappen to set the fastest time in FP1 for the Spanish Grand Prix, showing that rivals are closing in on Red Bull's dominance. This session also indicated that the season might turn into a four-way battle, with Carlos Sainz and George Russell close behind the top two.

Under scorching track temperatures nearing 50º celsius, all teams quickly took to the track to gather crucial data. The different tire choices among teams revealed varying strategies for qualifying and the race.

Norris initially struggled with his McLaren's balance on hard tires, complaining about instability and poor rear grip. However, switching to softer tires transformed his car, enabling him to set the fastest lap at 1:14.312, beating Verstappen's 1:14.336 by just 0.024 seconds. Meanwhile, Norris's teammate Oscar Piastri, ran a different program and finished sixth with a best time of 1:14.854. Piastri's session was disrupted by a red flag caused by debris from Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin.

Sergio Pérez of Red Bull ended the session in fifth with a time of 1:14.752, about 0.44 seconds off Verstappen's best. Pérez faced issues with understeer and throttle settings issues, leading to a radio exchange where he was advised to discuss the matter in the pits.

Ferrari's performance was promising, with Carlos Sainz setting the third-fastest time on medium tires at 1:14.656, just 0.344 seconds off Norris's benchmark. Charles Leclerc's session was less smooth, disrupted by the red flag, which impacted his final standing in 11th place with a time of 1:15.023.

Mercedes also showed competitiveness, with George Russell fourth at 1:14.698 and Lewis Hamilton seventh at 1:14.885. Both drivers ran on hard and medium tires, indicating the team's upgrades have been effective across different circuits.

Esteban Ocon in his Alpine surprised many by setting the eighth-fastest time at 1:14.934, leading the midfield battle ahead of Alexander Albon and Fernando Alonso. Alonso, with a best time of 1:15.109, focused on testing Aston Martin's new front suspension design but was competitive during his low-fuel runs.

AlphaTauri faced challenges, particularly with Yuki Tsunoda, who encountered a technical issue that limited his track time. Tsunoda ended up slowest with a time of 1:16.385. Daniel Ricciardo was 15th, clocking in at 1:15.512, but the midfield battle remains extremely tight, with small margins making significant differences in standings.

A red flag, 37 minutes into the session, further disrupted several drivers. A left front wing flap came off Alonso's Aston Martin after he ran wide out of Turn 9, necessitating the interruption to remove the debris. This cut qualifying runs short for drivers including Piastri and Leclerc.

The session underscored the increasing competitiveness among the top teams and the potential for a closely fought qualifying and race weekend. With varying strategies and ongoing developments, the Spanish Grand Prix promises intense competition this weekend.