Ferrari kicked off their weekend in style as Carlos Sainz set the tone in early practice for the returning Australian Grand Prix, with team-mate Charles Leclerc in second.

The Spaniard clocked 1m 19.806s on Pirelli’s softest tire – the C5 – with Leclerc 0.571s behind as the championship leader hit the gravel on his out lap and then gave up his second attempt.

READ MORE: ‘It’s pretty wild’ – Local fans ‘pleased’ with Melbourne’s return to F1, says Ricciardo

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez – who caused one of two red flags by losing a piece of bodywork – finished third with a fast lap behind the soft, a few tenths ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen, although the defending champion set his fastest lap much earlier in the session.

McLaren showed surprising pace, after a difficult start to the season as they struggled to overcome a front axle problem, with Lando Norris in fifth and local favorite Daniel Ricciardo in eighth.

1


carlos
sainz
SAI
Ferrari

1:19.806

2


Charles
Leclerc
LEC
Ferrari

+0.571s

3


Sergio
Perez
BY
Running of the red bulls

+0.593s

4


Max
Verstappen
WORM
Running of the red bulls

+0.820s

5


lando
Norris
NEITHER
McLaren

+1.072s

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon finished sixth, a fraction ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the leading Mercedes at Albert Park, which features several corner changes this year and was remade for the first time since F1 started coming in Melbourne in 1996.

Fernando Alonso moved his Alpine into ninth place (behind Ricciardo) in the closing stages, with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas completing the top 10 split by 1.441s.

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Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri – making its debut at this track and with just one simulator session of the new layout under its belt – finished 11th, on a track that will feature four DRS zones this weekend, a first in Formula 1.

Mercedes’ George Russell was 12th ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who pulled out a red flag late in the session when his Mercedes-powered Aston Martin lost power with just 18 laps on the board. It was a frustrating end to the session with the German hoping for plenty of miles after missing the first two races with Covid-19.

VISOR CAM: Carlos Sainz experiences porpoising in first practice at Australian GP

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished 14th, ahead of Zhou Guanyu – one of the four drivers, with Tsunoda, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher, who did not drive Albert Park – 15th.

Lance Stroll placed his Aston Martin 16th, with Alex Albon the Williams leader in 17th, 1.2 seconds behind teammate Latifi in 19th.

Haas looked faded after a strong start to 2022 with Kevin Magnussen, who came late to the track after experiencing nausea overnight, 18th, and teammate Schumacher 20th – 4.543s off Sainz’s P1 pace.

The second practice session will follow at 4:00 p.m., but will Ferrari continue to have the advantage in Melbourne?

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