Ferrari outplays Verstappen in free practice at the Australian GP

MELBOURNE.- Ferrari issued a warning in Friday's free practice of the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc setting the best time ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and his teammate Carlos Sainz in third place.

The Monaco driver set the best lap in the two free practice sessions at the Albert Park circuit, with a time of 1:17.277, almost four tenths faster than the Dutch world champion.

“From the first laps I felt comfortable in the car. But we have a lot of work to do because Red Bull didn't push hard, they are always in front,” said Leclerc.

Winner in Melbourne a year ago, Verstappen damaged the floor of his car in the first practice and missed 22 minutes of the second session while his mechanics repaired the damage.

The Dutchman, triple world champion, is seeking his tenth consecutive victory in grand prix in Australia, equaling his record from last year.

Red Bull is also pursuing a third consecutive double that would be unprecedented in the team's history.

To do this, he will need an improvement in the performance of Mexican Sergio Pérez, who only obtained the eighth best time on Friday.

Doubts cleared up at Ferrari:

The Spaniard Carlos Sainz was in a creditable third position after undergoing an appendicitis operation two weeks ago that left him out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

There were doubts about his physical condition after the surgery, but the Spanish driver had already been “positive” about his performance in the press conference prior to the grand prix.

“I'm happy to have been able to complete the entire day without problems. Obviously, I'm a little tired after spending almost two weeks in bed recovering. Despite that, I was able to do the entire day without any pain,” he added. He said goodbye this Friday, warning that on Saturday he will try to fight for pole.