Sergio Perez surprises all by going fastest in first practice session for Styrian GP

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Sergio Perez (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)
Sergio Perez (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)
EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

• Perez going fastest in first practice session.

• Racing Point showing good pace for rest of weekend.

• Ferrari not looking very competitive.

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The first practice session for the first-ever Styrian Grand Prix has ended. Racing Point's Sergio Perez set the fastest time of the session on a 1:04.867, a mere 0.096 seconds faster than Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Perez's team mate, Lance Stroll, was fifth fastest, with both Mercedes drivers taking positions three and four. Racing Point, effectively racing with Mercedes' 2019 car, is beginning to understand their car a lot more, which resulted in them topping the opening session for this weekend.

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel got their sessions off to a good start, but quickly began falling off the pace. In the end, Vettel was 0.903sec off the pace and Leclerc 0.970sec.

Incident free

The session was relatively incident-free, with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi bringing out the red flags. Latifi's Williams stopped on track following a gearbox failure, and it resulted in the session being stopped as marshals cleared his car off the track.

Stroll, at one point, went second fastest, but his time was deleted after exceeding track limits at turn 10. Race stewards have made it clear that they will not be kind to drivers going beyond the boundaries of the track.

For Ferrari, the session was an important one, as they tested a new front wing and a new floor. On the face of it, the updates did not produce the desired results, but the real benefit - or disadvantage - of the updates should become more evident in the next practice session. The team may have scored a second-place finish at last weekend's opening race, but it is unlikely that they will appear on the podium when the race comes to a close on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton is looking at an improvement on his showing last week, but it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to see him at the front of the grid.

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