FP1: Verstappen leads Alonso and Hamilton in opening practice session in Zandvoort
Max Verstappen set the early pace on Formula 1’s return from its summer break, with the home favourite topping the timesheets in the opening practice in Zandvoort, ahead of his pacy rivals Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
Following three weeks off from racing, the drivers returned to action as they kick started the second half of the season. They were greeted by clear blue skies, warm temperatures and packed grandstands filled with passionate fans.
And as the green light illuminated for the start of the session the drivers, led out by Kevin Magnussen – fresh from agreeing an extension with Haas – made their way out onto a very dusty track, with many looking to gather intel on their new upgrades.
After winning all 12 races before the summer break, Red Bull returned to action with a limited update this weekend, while Ferrari reported no changes. However, their rivals – including McLaren, Mercedes and Aston – all brought out bigger updates on their cars.
Plenty of drivers bolted on the hard tyres, while a few ran the mediums in the early stages, with home favourite Verstappen, who was met with cheers at each corner of the track, setting the early pace – his nearest rival Lewis Hamilton over six-tenths behind.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN DUTCH GRAND PRIX 2023
Practice 1 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:11.852|
|2 Fernando Alonso ALO Aston Martin||+0.278s|
|3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.373s|
|4 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.471s|
|5 Alexander Albon ALB Williams||+0.595s|
Aston Martin, however, waited 20 minutes before going out on track, but all was not well. While Fernando Alonso was going round the circuit, it was bad news on the other side of the garage, with Lance Stroll told to box due to a suspected power unit issue.
One by one the drivers began to strap on a set of the soft tyres to set some fast laps with Sergio Perez setting the quickest time. However, the red flags were then waved after Nico Hulkenberg spun through the gravel and into the barrier at Turn 14.
Once the action resumed with 11 minutes left in the session it was Verstappen – who ran through the gravel at Turn 12 at the end of practice – who vaulted to the top of the timesheets with a time of 1m 11.852s, leading Alonso by 0.278s.
Hamilton was the driver to suffer from Hulkenberg’s off as he was forced to abort a quick lap under the yellow flags, but he wound up third for Mercedes ahead of the other Red Bull of Perez in fourth.
It was an impressive first hour of running for Williams with Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant setting the fifth and seventh fastest times, with the McLaren of Lando Norris sandwiched between the pair in sixth, with his team mate Oscar Piastri in eighth.
AlphaTauri were another team to bring upgrades to the track with Yuki Tsunoda seen with a set of aero rakes fitted on to his car in the early stages. And the Japanese racer was ninth fastest ahead of his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was down in 13th.
Between the AlphaTauri drivers were the Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in 10th and 12th, respectively, with George Russell in the other Mercedes encountering traffic on his fast lap, leaving him down in 11th.
Magnussen wound up 14th for Haas, ahead of the Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu in 15th and 17th, respectively, although they did not run the soft tyre in the session.
Another team that did not run the soft tyre was Ferrari with Charles Lecelrc going 16th for Ferrari while reserve driver Robert Shwartzman – filling in for Carlos Sainz in the session – was down in 19th. Hulkenberg and Stroll were not able to come out on track again and finished 18th and 20th, respectively.
The drivers and their teams will now chew over the data from the session and prepare themselves for the second practice session later today at 1600 local time.