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Verstappen fastest in FP1 as new track causes issues

Verstappen fastest in FP1 as new track causes issues

19-11-2021 10:49


Max Verstappen sets the benchmark time in Qatar as the drivers adjust to their new surroundings in the desert. 

With a new track being added to the calendar for this 2021 season, the Qatar Grand Prix looks set to give as a spectacle this weekend. In the drivers first outing however, it was all about bedding in and finding their limits. Here's how things unfolded. 

For the first time in the history of the sport, we are taking a trip to Qatar and first up this morning was Free Practise 1. With nearly all of the drivers being completely alien to this circuit the first 10 minutes of the session was a cagey one. Times constantly rolled down as drivers got used to the twists and turns of this high-speed track. 

Early on in the session, Verstappen was the one to lay down the benchmark. His time of 1:24.8 held its place at the top of the leaderboard up until halfway until Valterri Bottas went top with 1:24.1 on a new set of soft tyres. But as more drivers started to use the soft tyre, that time was soon swept aside by the championship leader. A 1:23.7 for Verstappen looked an impressive gap to Red Bull's main rivals. 

Looking down the field it was McLaren had started to regain some of the pace they had earlier in the season. Having lost out to Ferrari over the course of the last two weekends their car looked rigged up as Lando and Ricciardo sat either side of the Italian cars. 

Whilst times were set there was no way of telling whether or not we were watching realistic sectors. The session involved mostly drivers just looking to find the bearing and track limits was the main topic of conversation. 

Race Director Micheal Masi had told teams that for the first session the drivers would be given more leniency as the FIA figured out any problem areas. 

Whilst cars struggled to find the track limits, their punishments for going over them came to the fore. Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton suffered as a result of running over the curbs and both had to come into the pits to fix the damage. If the FIA think they need to punish drivers for going over, the curbs seem to being doing the job for them 

With this FP1 session, a chance for the drivers to just bed in there was not much to tell between all the cars. With a look ahead we can only expect to see that time of a 1:23.7 from Verstappen be swept aside as the weekend goes on. 

None the less here is your top 5 from the session: 

1. Verstappen, 2. Gasly, 3. Bottas, 4. Hamilton, 5. Tsunoda 

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