Salem Radio Network News Thursday, August 18, 2022

Sports

Motor racing-Leclerc leads Ferrari one-two in Spanish GP practice

By Alan Baldwin

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two in first practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix on Friday as the Italian team introduced a package of performance upgrades.

The world championship leader lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in a best time of one minute 19.828 seconds on a hot afternoon, with Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz a mere 0.079 slower.

Red Bull’s reigning champion Max Verstappen was third fastest, 0.336 off the pace.

Leclerc has a 19 point lead over Verstappen after five races while Ferrari are six clear at the top of the constructors’ standings.

Verstappen has won the last two races, however, whittling down the Monegasque’s lead with a car that has been getting quicker as Red Bull introduce their own improvements.

“It’s been close since the beginning of the season and every time they (Red Bull) have brought upgrades they have been closer and closer and now I think are a bit in front, especially in terms of race pace,” Leclerc told reporters ahead of the session.

“I hope it (the upgrades) will be enough for us to jump back in front.”

Verstappen has won three races this season and Leclerc the other two.

George Russell was fourth on the timesheets for Mercedes, who have brought their own upgrades, with team mate Lewis Hamilton sixth.

Alpine’s two times world champion Fernando Alonso was sandwiched between the two in fifth.

Formula E champion and Mercedes reserve Nyck de Vries made his grand prix weekend debut in place of Thai driver Alex Albon at Williams for the session and was 18th but quicker than Canadian regular Nicholas Latifi.

Estonian Juri Vips replaced Sergio Perez in the Red Bull, and was last while experienced Polish reserve Robert Kubica took the wheel of Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo and put in the 13th fastest lap.

New regulations oblige teams to run young drivers in two practice sessions this season, with de Vries and Vips meeting those requirements.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Toby Davis and Alison Williams)

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