Verstappen leads the first free practice session in Qatar
Dutch Max verstappen (Red Bull), leaders of the championship, set the best time this Friday in the first free practice for the rookie Qatar Grand Prix, the twentieth and penultimate of the World Cup Formula One, which takes place in the circuit of Losail; where the spanish Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Alpine) scored the sixth and seventeenth time, respectively; and the Mexican Sergio Pérez, the eighth.
Verstappen covered, in his best lap, the 5,380 meters of the Qatari track - a circuit with 16 curves and a long straight, of more than a kilometer - in one minute, 23 seconds and 723 thousandths, 437 less than the French Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri). The English sevenfold world champion Lewis hamilton (Mercedes) - second in the World Cup, 14 points behind the Dutchman - set the fourth time of the trial, 786 thousandths behind the Dutch.
The session served as a mere contact with a track to which almost everyone sought their limits and some exceeded them, without major incidents; and that concluded with 28 degrees Celsius ambient and 39 on the fairly abrasive asphalt by Losail: which is why this Grand Prix is filming with the hardest range of compounds (C1 -hard-, C2 -medium- and C3 -soft).
Sainz repeated the debut track 26 times - about 20 kilometers from Doha, the capital of Qatar - and pushed to the point of going long a couple of times, the second after the last corner and before entering the pit lane. He was not the only one to exceed the limits on a track unknown to all; and his time was the sixth of the session, 99 hundredths behind his former teammate Verstappen, with whom he coincided at Toro Rosso. The talented Madrid rider, seventh in the World Cup, surpassed his Monegasque teammate Charles Leclerc, seventh in training and one place ahead of him in the competition, with eight and a half points more.
The Mexican Sergio Pérez - fourth in the World Cup, 25 points behind Bottas, whom he aspires to snatch the third final place in the last three races - scored the eighth time lap of a session in which everyone set their best time on the soft compound and in which the brave man from Guadalajara made 22 laps. In the best of them he was one second and almost two tenths of the time of his Dutch teammate, who was clearly the fastest in this first contact, beating the two Mercedes by almost half a second and by almost eight tenths.
Alonso - eleventh in the World Cup - marked the seventeenth time. The Asturian double world champion spun 21 times and he was two seconds and 182 thousandths of Verstappen's time.
The second free training, which will be much more indicative, as it will be held at the same time as this Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race, it will start at 5:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m., in Spanish peninsular time; 2:00 p.m. GMT).