Sergio Perez led the way for Racing Point as he topped the opening practice session for the 2020 Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.

Driving the hotly-debated RP20, which has been dubbed the ‘pink Mercedes’ due to its close resemblance to Mercedes’ 2019 title-winning W10, Perez turned a 1m04.867s to edge Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just 0.096s on the same Soft tyre compound.

Fresh from winning the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, Valtteri Bottas once again headed teammate Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes exclusively stuck to Medium tyres throughout FP1.

Bottas ended up just 0.222s adrift of Perez’s benchmark despite running harder tyres, while Hamilton was only 0.031s off his teammate in fourth.

Lance Stroll completed the top five order in the second Racing Point and was three-tenths behind Perez, though he did have a faster lap time deleted for falling foul of the strict track limits regulations enforced at the Red Bull Ring.

Sixth place went the way of Alex Albon in his Red Bull, with the British-born Thai driver just a tenth faster than the highest-placed McLaren of Carlos Sainz.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was eighth-quickest, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who rounded out the top 10.

Following the Italian outfit’s pace struggles last weekend in Spielberg, Ferrari spent the opening practice session trialing new updates on both cars, including a revised floor and front wing having brought forward the package it originally planned to introduce in Hungary in its bid to improve competitiveness.

AlphaTauri racer Daniil Kvyat split the Ferraris in 11th place, with Charles Leclerc - who claimed an unlikely podium in the Austrian GP - a lowly 12th and nearly a full second off the pace.

Behind them came Renault’s Esteban Ocon in 13th, while new F1 podium-sitter Lando Norris could only manage the 14th-fastest time in his McLaren.

Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest Alfa Romeo driver in 15th, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Jack Aitken, who took over George Russell’s Williams to contest FP1.

Aitken was just 1.9s off the pace in his grand prix weekend bow, while he also outpaced the returning Robert Kubica, who deputised for Alfa Romeo regular Antonio Giovinazzi in his first F1 weekend outing since the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Nicholas Latifi was only 19th fastest after he stopped on track just 30 minutes into the session with a suspected engine problem in his Williams.

The Canadian pulled over after exiting Turn 4 and parked his FW43 on the grass, bringing out the red flags following Mercedes’ latest power unit issue.

Williams has already been forced to change the engine in George Russell’s car ahead of this weekend’s race following his retirement at the Austrian Grand Prix.

It was a far from ideal start to the weekend for Kevin Magnussen, who failed to set a lap time and completed just three laps before Haas called him back to the garage to investigate a possible battery-related issue.




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