Home Sport Norris fastest as Albon crashes in practice at Australian GP

Norris fastest as Albon crashes in practice at Australian GP

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Norris posted a flying lap of one minute, 18.564 seconds on soft tyres midway through the session and the time held up despite a late dash at the end by Red Bull’s reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

McLaren’s Lando Norris. File Picture: REUTERS, Maxim Shemetov

Ian Ransom, in MELBOURNE – Lando Norris topped the timesheets for McLaren in the first free practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday, as Williams driver Alex Albon disrupted the session with a crash at a familiar turn at Albert Park.

Norris posted a flying lap of one minute, 18.564 seconds on soft tyres midway through the session and the time held up despite a late dash at the end by Red Bull’s reigning world champion Max Verstappen, who was 0.018 seconds slower.

The session was halted in the last 20 minutes with a red flag when Albon locked up and took a heavy shunt into the barrier at turn six, wrecking his Williams car before it rolled to a stop at turn eight.

It came a year after Albon crashed at the same turn on race-day, triggering one of three red flags.

With debris strewn along a long section of the track, Albon walked away from his car and apologised on the team radio.

George Russell was third quickest for Mercedes ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but it was a worrying session for the Silver Arrows, with both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton skidding off track.

Russell complained about vibration in his steering rack early in the session and later locked up at turn 10.

Hamilton also ran into trouble at turn 2, taking a skid into grass. Another skid at the end of the session had him reporting damage to the floor of his car over the team radio.

Carlos Sainz, two weeks after surgery for appendicitis, eased back into the Ferrari race seat by posting the eighth fastest lap.

Yuki Tsunoda was fifth quickest for RB, one better than Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Lance Stroll was seventh fastest, while Aston Martin teammate Fernando Alonso managed only the 18th fastest lap and took an early skid into gravel at turn 10.

The cars return to the track for the second free practice later on Friday.

Reuters

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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