Verstappen posted a series of fastest laps before setting his benchmark time on the soft tyres, producing a 1m05.910s to sit 0.256s clear of his former Red Bull teammate Gasly in second place.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was third-fastest in his Mercedes, some 0.422s down on his main championship rival who he trails by 12 points heading into the weekend.

Valtteri Bottas ended FP1 fourth after seeing his fastest lap of the session - which was good enough for second - deleted for one of many track limits infringements seen throughout the session.

F1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda put his AlphaTauri fifth, ahead of the Alpine duo of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, both of whom were six-tenths off the pace.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was eighth-fastest, while Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc completed the top-10 for Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.

Carlos Sainz suffered a spin exiting Turn 1 on his way to 11th, ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez, who spun at Turn 4.

It was a busy session of running as a number of teams focused on mileage and getting through their respective programmes, with rain forecast to hit Spielberg ahead of second practice this afternoon.

Robert Kubica returned to the cockpit of the Alfa Romeo in place of Kimi Raikkonen and had an early spin at Turn 3 on his way to ending up 19th, ahead of only Nikita Mazepin’s Haas.

Click here for full results from opening practice for the 2021 F1 Styrian Grand Prix.