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Silverstone FP1: Verstappen fastest from Perez, Albon third

Max Verstappen topped the first practice session of the 2023 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the reigning Formula 1 Champion in superior form right from the start.

Sergio Perez continued his progress from Austria and was second fastest for Red Bull, albeit over four tenths slower than his teammate.

The surprise of the session was Williams’ Alex Albon who was third fastest for the grove outfit celebrating their 800th F1 race this weekend.

Albon was second fastest for a few moments before Perez went faster, as the Thai driver seemed to be making good use of his FW45’s top speed on the straights.

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Despite the Red Bull/Verstappen advantage being undeniable, the first practice took place in low grip conditions the track being green, so the times should drop even further in the coming sessions.

Buildup towards FP1

After F1’s Sprint weekend in Austria last week, the sport returns to action at Silverstone but with a conventional weekend, three practice sessions, a Qualifying and a Grand Prix.

Another thing we hopefully won’t be having this weekend is the track limits festival we had at Spielberg, which meant race results took hours to ratify after the chequered flag.

The Sprint format last week didn’t mix things up and Verstappen dominated the weekend from start till end, and nothing should stop him to do the same this week as well, unless his misfortunes from 2021 – infamous crash with Lewis Hamilton –  and 2022 – damage on his car – hit again this year; not to mention the classic English weather that may throw in a few curve balls, with rain expected on Saturday and Sunday.

How will Perez perform this weekend after an improvement in Austria? And behind the two Bulls, will Ferrari be chasing? Or will Mercedes and Aston Martin bounce back? What of McLaren’s Chrome-liveried MCL60?

We have Brad Pitt filming his F1-themed movie at the same time this weekend at Silverstone, so will that affect the racing? It has assured that won’t happen, but what if? And then let’s not forget the threat of protesters…

As for Pirelli, check out the compounds they brought to Britain.

Silverstone FP1 session highlights

Let’s start with upgrades, Mercedes have brought a new front wing as a further addition to the W14’s major upgrade form Monaco. The new wing has a revised “chord distribution” of its elements to improve air flow towards the floor and the bodywork further back. The wing also has a revised endplate.

McLaren will also have a further upgrade on their MCL60, a new front wing as well as a new nose will be added to the already successful upgrade package they brought to Austria, while Piastri will have the upgraded car this time around. They also have revised rear brake ducts and suspension assembly.

Alpine also have a new front wing, while Red Bull have track-specific changes to their RB19 in the brake duct area. As for Aston Martin, they have a revised front wing flap and rear brake duct inlet.

AlphaTauri have a big upgrade. The floor body, fences and edge have been revised with work done to the diffuser, with the vertical sidewalls modified. There is also a revised rear suspension and rear wing as well as a new engine cover.

Williams are celebrating their 800th grand prix with a special livery. Their 800th should’ve been at Silverstone but the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix meant it’ll be Hungary so the team are celebrating in both races.

FP1 started in clear and dry conditions with ambient temperatures 24C while the track temperatures in the region of 40C.

Perez head out on track with aero rakes attached to his RB19 while Lance Stroll soon reported power an electrical problem as he had a “limp home” message.

Verstappen, running the Hard compound bolted on his car reported lack of grip that was getting “worse”, and pitted right after that. He later said over the team radio: “It’s just like driving on ice.”

The reigning F1 Champion was not the only driver to complain about the grip as Hamilton and Esteban Ocon also reported similar issues.

Less than 15 minutes into the session, Nyck de Vries brought out the Yellow flags after he spun into the gravel trap at Turn 7. The Dutchman was able to get going though.

Almost halfway into the session, Albon had a moment at Luffield, as he struggled to turn in the car and then soon after ran wide at the exit of Stowe.

In the second half of the session, the Soft tyres started appearing on the cars with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc leading he proceedings respectively at that moment.

Hamilton reported his W14 was not behaving; he told his team over the radio: “Bouncing is pretty bad mate.”

George Russell soon reported vibrations in his steering in Maggotts and Becketts and asks the team to have a look.

Perez was the first Red Bull car to bolt on the Soft tyres, but could not do better than third fastest on his first flying lap on them behind leading Leclerc and second-placed Ocon. That was 12 minutes from the end of the session.

Verstappen on the other hand went straight to the top of the standings on his first lap on Soft tyres and stayed there till the end of the session.

With five minutes remaining, Russell had a moment at Turn 6, a snap of oversteer sending him wide, but managed to get back on track with no consequences.

The session was concluded with drivers practicing their race starts at the start/finish line.

How they finished

Verstappen posted a 1:28.600 to go fastest of all and was the only driver to go under the 1:29 mark, with Perez behind him buy 0.048s.

Albon, third for Williams and only 0.041s behind Perez, with Fernando Alonso fourth fastest in the Aston Martin, 0.179s behind the #23 Williams.

Leclerc was fifth fastest for Ferrari with a 1:29.280, 0.680s off the pace, with Ocon 0.039s behind him in sixth.

Sainz was seventh fastest in the other Ferrari, 0.757s down from Verstappen’s time, while Lando Norris could not manage more that eighth fastest, 0.038s behind the Spaniard.

Stroll was ninth fastest in the other Aston Martin with a 1:29.471, while Piastri rounded off the top ten.

Mercedes’ Hamilton and Russell struggle throughout the session and finished 12th and 14the respectively.

FP1 Official Results

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