Alex Albon walked away from a high-speed crash in opening practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

The London-born Thai driver lost control of his Williams on the exit of Turn 6 before smashing into the wall on the inside of the track and rebounding across the circuit.

Albon’s right-front wheel tore off his machine under impact, with debris from his Williams littering the track.

Albon came to a standstill and was able to get out of his cockpit. “Sorry,” he said over the radio before he was taken away in the medical car.

“Muchos debris,” said Lando Norris. “Is he alright? It looked pretty large.”

The one-hour running was suspended for 10 minutes, with McLaren’s Norris topping the time charts.

The British driver finished just 0.018 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with George Russell third for Mercedes and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc fourth. The top four were separated by less than half-a-tenth.

Russell hauled his Mercedes towards the front of the order in the closing moments, but team-mate Lewis Hamilton struggled with the handling of his Silver Arrows.

The seven-time world champion ran off the road at the opening bend on his first lap on the speediest soft tyres and ended the session only ninth.

Carlos Sainz, back in his Ferrari after missing the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with appendicitis, was eighth.

The second practice session at Melbourne’s Albert Park will begin at 4pm local time (5am GMT).