Australia, FP1: Verstappen quickest ahead of Hamilton

Perez 3rd, Alonso 4th


By Franck Drui

31 March 2023 - 04:37
Australia, FP1: Verstappen quickest (...)

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

Formula 1 news