Alexander Albon ended his opening practice session at the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix red-faced after crashing his Red Bull Racing Honda late in the session. Despite this, the Anglo-Thai driver wound up fastest overall in a mostly rain-affected session at Interlagos.
Albon could perhaps be forgiven for his misstep, with teammate Max Verstappen also spinning his RB15 off the circuit after the team made an ambitious – and ultimately foolhardy – switch to dry-weather tyres late in the session.
Track action began under heavy rain, which kept most of the field confined to the garage in the early minutes before a few brave souls ventured out for installation laps on Pirelli’s Wet tyres.
After half an hour, conditions had improved enough for the first exploratory runs on Intermediate tyres. Newly-crowned six-time champion Lewis Hamilton was among the first to do so, however the Mercedes-AMG driver did not bother to post a lap time in the session.
Albon was seemingly most at home on the green-walled rubber and posted the fastest time of the session with a 1:16.142, some half a second quicker than Valtteri Bottas.
Track conditions improved enough that a few drivers opted for a switch to dry tyres in the final minutes of the session. Verstappen almost immediately had a spin at Turn 2, followed shortly after by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat at Turn 1.
Albon them came to grief at Turn 12, sliding helplessly towards the outside barriers and breaking his right front suspension with the impact. That brought out the red flags and an end to the session with just three minutes left on the clock.
Behind Albon and Bottas, the Ferrari pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished third- and fourth-fastest respectively, while McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr was a solid fifth-fastest ahead of Renault teammates Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.
The Toro Rosso Hondas of Pierre Gasly and Kvyat – despite his spin – were eighth and ninth on the timesheets, with the second McLaren of Lando Norris completing the top ten.
With only sixteen drivers attempting to post a lap time in an ultimately unrepresentative session, Williams’ George Russell was eleventh-fastest despite a poorly-handling car. Outgoing teammate Robert Kubica sat out the session so that reserve driver Nicholas Latifi could have another FP1 outing. The Canadian, widely considered the frontrunner to claim the only remaining seat on next year’s grid, was predictably the slowest driver.
|FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÊMIO DO BRASIL 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:16.142||9|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:16.693||+ 0.551||10|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:17.041||+ 0.899||13|
|4.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:17.285||+ 1.143||13|
|5.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:17.786||+ 1.644||16|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:17.899||+ 1.757||8|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:17.985||+ 1.843||9|
|8.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:18.100||+ 1.958||17|
|9.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:18.274||+ 2.132||16|
|10.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:18.559||+ 2.417||15|
|11.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:18.779||+ 2.637||18|
|12.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:19.247||+ 3.105||10|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:19.414||+ 3.272||6|
|14.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:19.532||+ 3.390||12|
|15.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:19.600||+ 3.458||18|
|16.||Nicholas Latifi||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:20.010||+ 3.868||16|
|17.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||no time||3|
|18.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||no time||1|
|19.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||no time||3|
|20.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||no time||3|
Image via Red Bull Content Pool