Australia, FP1: Verstappen quickest ahead of Hamilton
Perez 3rd, Alonso 4th
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen set the fastest lap of opening practice for the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by almost half a second, despite suffering a spin a session twice interrupted by red flags.
Verstappen rose to the top of the order late in the session, first edging out team-mate Sergio Pérez who had led the way with a time of 1:19.293 set on medium tyres. Verstappen, on softs, initially nudged Pérez out of P1 with a lap of 1:19.278 but then used the advantage of the softer tyres to stretch to a time of 1:18.790 that left him 0.503 ahead of his team-mate. With a couple of minutes to go Hamilton then split the Red Bulls with a lap of 1:19.223 that left him 0.433s off Verstappen. The session effectively ended there, as moments after Hamilton had crossed the line, Williams’ Logan Sargeant ground to a halt at Turn 11 reporting a loss of power.
Despite taking top spot it wasn’t a straightforward session for championship leader Verstappen. The Dutch driver complained of problems with gear shifts before attributing the issue to rear brake problems. Later in the session he also suffered a lurid high-speed spin when he took too much kerb on the exit of Turn 4 and spun off sideways.
With strong winds sweeping across Albert Park a number of other drivers also suffered spins, with Pérez, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen all having off-track moments. Pérez’s spin occurred on his soft tyre run, leaving the Mexican third thanks to his best medium-tyre time.
Fourth place in the session went to Fernando Alonso, with the Aston Martin driver ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sainz.
Lando Norris took seventh for McLaren ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, Russell and Lance Stroll, who rounded out the top 10 in the other Aston Martin.
As well as the red flag for Sargeant’s stoppage, the session was halted just past the halfway mark when an issue with the GPS system was detected. With teams unable to inform their drivers about approaching cars carrying large speed differences, FIA race officials quickly stopped the session to remedy the problem. Running resumed after a nine-minute delay.
|01||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:18.790||17|
|02||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W14||1:19.223||20|
|03||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:19.293||19|
|04||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:19.317||23|
|05||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF-23||1:19.378||16|
|06||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF-23||1:19.505||20|
|07||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:19.536||16|
|08||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault A523||1:19.646||22|
|09||George Russell||Mercedes W14||1:19.699||23|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:19.766||19|
|11||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:19.766||21|
|12||Oscar Piastri||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:19.777||22|
|13||Nico Hülkenberg||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:19.806||19|
|14||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:19.933||25|
|15||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:20.074||21|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A523||1:20.175||20|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:20.399||14|
|18||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:21.862||21|
|19||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:20.569||22|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:21.147||17|