Lando Norris led a truncated and super-tight first practice at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne after a heavy Alex Albon crash red flagged the session.

Albon lost control of his Williams exiting Turn 7 and whacked the wall on the inside of Turn 8, shattering his car. The FW46 rebounded back onto the circuit before coming to rest in a heap. Albon extricated himself unhurt, but red flags were required to collect the car and clear the debris.

Less than nine minutes remained when the session resumed, but by then most drivers had already completed their runs on soft tires, leaving the order largely unchanged at the finish.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were notable exceptions, but neither was able to hook up a clean lap on fresh softs.

Verstappen bottomed out through the fast Turn 9-10 chicane and ran wide, and shortly afterwards Perez slid off the road at Turn 11 and locked up into Turn 13.

It took a second Verstappen a second run on his now worn softs — and with what he suspected was a d amaged floor — to complete a competitive lap, putting him 0.018s behind the leading McLaren.

George Russell also improved after the suspension, finishing third and 0.033s off the pace in a difficult hour for Mercedes. The German marque was experimenting with a previous floor specification to try to cure its high-speed inconsistency, but both Russell and Hamilton struggled to stay on track. Russell’s car snapped once through the fast chicane at the end of the back straight, while Lewis Hamilton cut the grass at Turn 1 after the session resumed from red.

Charles Leclerc was 0.002s further back for Ferrari ahead of an impressive Yuki Tsunoda, who put his RB car fifth and 0.057s off the fastest lap, and Perez, who completed an extremely tight top six at 0.078s off the pace.

Lance Stroll was seventh for Aston Martin but a comparatively distant 0.103s adrift, leading Carlos Sainz in his first session back from appendicitis, the troubled Hamilton and home hero Oscar Piastri in 10th.

Daniel Ricciardo followed his compatriot in 11th and 0.71s off the pace, though the old Australian didn’t appear to complete a flying lap on fresh softs before the red flag interrupted the session.

The crashed-out Albon finished 12th ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly.

Fernando Alonso damaged his floor after running off the road and through the gravel at Turn 10, costing him time in his garage.

Sauber teammates Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas completed the order, the Finn having pirouetted after a snap at the chicane.