Zandvoort FP1: Verstappen fastest, Alonso chases early on

Zandvoort FP1: Verstappen fastest, Alonso chases early on

Zandvoort FP1: Verstappen fastest, Alonso chases early on

Max Verstappen picked up from where he left before the Formula 1 summer break, topping the first practice session for the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

The reigning F1 Champion was followed by Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin while Lewis Hamilton was third fastest in the Mercedes.

The session was pretty much straight forwards with the only highlight being Nico Hulkenberg’s crash during the session, after he was confirmed as a Haas driver for 2024 yesterday.

The times may be a bit better for Verstappen and Hamilton as both were slowed down by traffic on their flying laps. Hamilton as well had his first attempt on fresh Soft tyres ruined by Hulkenberg’s crash.

Verstappen was on a final hot lap when the chequered flag was waved, but went off at Turn 11, running through the gravel, but made it back to pits in one piece.

However the early signs show that Aston Martin may have taken a step forward with their upgraded AMR23, mixing it up with Mercedes and ahead of McLaren.

Buildup towards FP1

And so the summer break was over, and F1 was back in action for the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix, the first of ten remaining races this season.

This weekend will feature a conventional event, no Sprints, as hometown hero Verstappen chases his ninth consecutive win this year, which will put him level on with Sebastian Vettel who achieved a similar feat back in 2013 with Red Bull.

This comes as Red Bull rivals and the F1 community in general speculate whether the Verstappen/RB19 combo can ever be beaten in 2023, as the team have won all the races this season (Sprints included).

While previous races at Zandvoort have been in dry conditions, the clear weather from Friday is not expected to carry on for the remainder of the weekend, as rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday.

Will Red Bull and Verstappen continue their faultless run, or will the break have interrupted their momentum?

As for the tyre choice, Pirelli have brought the C1 (Hard), C2 (Medium) and C3 (Soft) compounds to the Netherlands.

Zandvoort FP1 session highlights

The session started in clear conditions with track temperatures at 31 degrees while the ambient temperature was 21 degrees.

Several teams came to Zandvoort with upgrade packages in on their cars with Red Bull bringing a revised beam wing, while Mercedes brought a new floor edge, a revised sidepod inlet and a new beam wing as well.

McLaren who have turned their season around since Austria brought a new rear wing to their MCL60 with a revised beam wing as well.

Aston Martin who are trying to recapture their early season form brought a bigger upgrade to their AMR23 featuring new floor body, floor edge, floor fence as well as a new diffuser.

Haas have a new front wing and nose as well as a revised rear corner hoping to sort out their tyre problems, while AlphaTauri have a new rear wing endplate.

At the Ferrari, Carlos Sainz was watching the action from the team garage as he handed over his SF-23 to the junior driver Robert Schwartzman.

The teams started their running with Hard and Medium tyres as the choice for early Friday as many cars featuring flow viz and aero rakes.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll joined the running almost halfway through the session and was soon called back into the team pits as they found out an issue with the AMR23, while he reported a funny noise in the car.

Stroll has missed his media duties on Thursday as he was recovering from an illness with reports he had an ear infection as he had a procedure done which explains the bandages he had.

Alonso had an off moment at Turn 11, and had to go through the gravel trap. He returned to the pits for the Aston Martin mechanics to have a look at his AMR23 and check it for any damage.

As the session passed its halfway mark, the teams started using the Soft tyres with Logan Sargeant enjoying a moment of glory topping the time screens. That was short-lived through and he was soon moving down the order.

Verstappen was running with high fuel on his car at that point setting some serious race pace in his RB19 (four tenths faster than Hamilton in the Mercedes) and soon boxed for Soft tyres to do some qualifying simulations.

With 18 minutes remaining, Hulkenberg brought out the first Red flag of the session as he binned his Haas after losing the rear at Turn 14 and ended up in the barriers.

Hulkenberg’s crash ruined Hamilton’s flying lap on Soft tyres as the Mercedes driver set two purples sectors before the German driver had his accident.

Worth noting that Hulkenberg did not seem to be at ease with his VF-23 during FP1 as teammate Magnussen had the upper hand early on.

Haas boss Guenther Steiner commented on Hulkenberg’s crash from the pit wall, he told Sky Sports F1: “Yeah it looks like only the front wing is damaged. But, it is the new front wing and we don’t have a lot of them.

“We need to see if we can repair it or not. We have another one but only one so we need to decide if we risk it this afternoon or not,” he added.

The session was resumed with less than 11 minutes remaining in the clock, as drivers raced out to put in some laps on the Soft tyres.

Esteban Ocon reported a problem with his Alpine, informing his team that the car was going back on the throttle when his foot is off the pedal.

In the meantime Hamilton almost copied Hulkenberg, his Mercedes snapping at the same place as the Haas, but the seven-time F1 Champion kept it together.

How they finished

Verstappen posted a 1:11.852 to go fastest, and was 0.278s faster than Alonso in second place, while Hamilton was 0.095s further behind the Spaniard in third.

Sergio Perez was fourth fastest in the other Red Bull, 0.471s off the pace of his teammate, while Williams’ Alex Albon was a surprise fifth, 0.124s behind the Mexican.

Lando Norris went sixth fastest in the McLaren, 0.608s off the pace and 0.157s faster than Sargeant, who was seventh fastest in the second Williams.

Oscar Piastri was eighth fastest, 0.198s slower than Norris and 0.091s faster than Yuki Tsunoda, the Japanese driver ninth fastest in the AlphaTauri.

Ocon rounded off the top ten, 0.950 off the ultimate pace, ahead of George Russell who was 11th in the #63 Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc was 16th fastest, while Shwartzman was 19th falsest for Ferrari.

FP1 Results