Verstappen was in a class of his own in the first free practice session. The Dutchman initially stayed in the pit box for a long time, but once he came out, there was little against him. On the very last lap, the Red Bull driver sharpened his fastest time by also being fastest in the final sector. This closed the gap to number two Perez by more than four tenths.
The gap to the first opponent was even bigger, as Fernando Alonso finished just under seven tenths. Marko told ORF that this gap therefore reassures him, but that it is mainly thanks to Verstappen. Perez is only just ahead of Alonso, while Verstappen manages to create a much bigger gap on his own.
The car's balance is therefore improving, but Verstappen himself is not even in top form yet. Marko reveals to the medium that he saw Verstappen sweating for the first time. Verstappen was missing from media activities on Thursday due to a stomach flu and does not yet appear to be fully fit. However, Marko is confident that Max will be in top form on Sunday.