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Lando Norris tops Australian GP practice as Alex Albon crashes

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The world champion, who moved up to second just 0.018 seconds behind Norris with his final lap of the session, was one of several drivers to make a mistake at Turn 10.

Verstappen’s incident at Turn 10, the second part of a fast left-right sequence, was minor compared to those suffered by Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Valtteri Bottas.

Alonso ran wide at Turn 10 and damaged his floor, Russell had a huge rear snap on entry to Turn Nine but managed to rescue the car by cutting the corner, while Bottas spun his Sauber without hitting anything.

Russell, though, ended what had been looking like a difficult session for Mercedes by leaping up to third fastest right at the end.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, was only ninth fastest, after a trip off track at Turn One, also after he had lost the rear of the car.

The seven-time champion told his team on the radio that he feared he had damaged his floor with a trip over the kerbs.

Albon’s accident – which was triggered by running wide onto the kerbs and was reminiscent of his crash in the race last year which led to the first of several red flags – led to an 11-minute stoppage at Albert Park.

Behind Russell, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest, ahead of RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, returning after missing the last race in Saudi Arabia for an appendix operation, was eighth, ahead of Hamilton and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

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