Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has carried forward his momentum from pre-season testing into round one of the 2021 Championship, with him topping Free Practice One (FP1) ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Lando Norris put in a lap good enough for third, though he was nevertheless half-a-second off Verstappen’s pace.
Sir Lewis Hamilton, who will be going after his eighth World Championship this year, finished the session fourth, ahead of Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly.
Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, and Antonio Giovinazzi round out the top ten.
Alpine, Williams and Haas occupied the bottom of the time sheet, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in P15 and P16, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi in P17 and P18, and Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin in P19 and P20, respectively.
Free Practice Two, which will get underway at 3pm (GMT), should give us a better idea of the real pecking order as it will take place in the same conditions (in the evening, under the floodlights) as qualifying and the grand prix.