FP1: Verstappen heads Sainz and Perez in busy opening practice session in Monza
Max Verstappen picked up from where he left off last week in Zandvoort to set the early pace in Monza. The Red Bull driver topped the timesheets at the opening practice hour in Italy ahead of rival Carlos Sainz and team mate Sergio Perez.
The last time the drivers were out on track they were sliding their way through the heavy rain and wet track at Zandvoort. However, as they made their way out of the pit lane at Monza, they were greeted by sunny skies and warm temperatures.
There were a mix of tyres at the start as the drivers began to adapt to Pirelli’s Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA). While the majority opted to run the hard and soft tyres, Haas and Aston Martin ran the mediums on both their cars.
It was Oscar Piastri, on the softs, who set the early place, although there was unwelcome news for the newly-painted Alfa Romeo drivers. Both Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were unable to come out of the pit lane, complaining of anti-stall.
But as the times began to tumble even further it was Verstappen who set the pace on the hards, going around the Monza circuit in 1m 22.657s. Carlos Sainz showed a good turn of pace for Ferrari, going 0.046s off the pace of the Dutch driver.
FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2023
Practice 1 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing
|2 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari
|3 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing
|4 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari
|5 George Russell RUS Mercedes
About 20 minutes in the session a few drivers – such as Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Logan Sargeant – made their way out on to the track for the first time, showing their way of adapting to the ATA. And while Zhou and Bottas made it out of the pit lane, they both complained of various issues with the C43, forcing the team to box the pair.
In a bid to save tyres for the rest of the weekend, no driver strapped on a second set of tyres in search of going quicker, instead focusing on long runs. This meant Verstappen’s early time on the hards was good enough to top the times ahead of Sainz.
Perez was third for Red Bull, with Charles Leclerc – who was stuck in the garage for parts of the session as a suspension set-up change was made to his SF23 – going fourth fastest ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell, who rounded out the top five.
Two-time winner at Monza, Fernando Alonso, was sixth having run the mediums, ahead of soft tyre runner Norris. They were followed by the five-time winner at Monza, Lewis Hamilton, who was eighth fastest having run the hards for Mercedes.
Tsunoda was an impressive ninth for AlphaTauri at the Faenza based team's home race, ahead of Alex Albon, who survived through the gravel on the exit of the Ascari chicane to round out the top-10 for Williams.
Piastri wound up 11th for McLaren, ahead of his fellow rookies Logan Sargeant at Williams, and Liam Lawson – as the Kiwi continues to fill in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri.
Fresh from a first podium with Alpine last weekend at Zandvoort, Pierre Gasly was 14th fastest, ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The Finn came back out on track to say his car felt much better, but was down in 15th for Alfa Romeo, ahead of the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg.
The other Alpine of Esteban Ocon was 17th, ahead of Felipe Drugovich – filling in for Lance Stroll at Aston Martin as part of the mandated rookie FP1 outings – with Kevin Magnussen in 19th for Haas, and Zhou Guanyu in 20th.
That is a wrap on FP1 in Monza, and the drivers will now go chew through the data with their teams and debrief ahead of the second practice session later today at 1700 local time.