F1 – Verstappen tops EL1 ahead of Alonso as F1 returns to action at Zandvoort

F1 - Verstappen tops EL1 ahead of Alonso as F1 returns to action at Zandvoort 1

Championship leader Max Verstappen dominated the opening practice session of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix this weekend, beating Fernando Alonso by nearly three-tenths of a second as F1 returned in action in Zandvoort after his summer vacation. However, the session was interrupted by red flags due to a late crash involving Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg.

Verstappen, who is aiming for a third straight win in his home race, quickly got into the rhythm at Zandvoort, leading the opening practice on hard-compound Pirelli tires, setting a target time of 1:13.191.

None of the Dutchman’s rivals could match that pace and it wasn’t until the peloton started switching to soft tires that Verstappen was dislodged.

Williams’ Logan Sargeant was the first to put on the soft tires just before halfway, and his 1:12.814 lap took him to the top of the standings. Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez then took the lead with a lap of 1:12.439 on soft tyres, and the Mexican then lowered the benchmark further with a lap of 1:12.323.

Verstappen, meanwhile, continued to drive on hard tyres, a tactic matched by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and reserve driver Robert Shwartzman, who replaced Carlos Sainz. Neither Ferrari driver had a significant impact on the timesheet, with Leclerc finishing the session in P16 and Shwartzman in P19.

As the session neared its final quarter of an hour, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton looked set to beat leader Pérez, but was forced to abandon the lap when Hülkenberg crashed. The German lost control at turn 13 and slid backwards into the barriers. Red flags were waved and the session was halted for eight minutes while his car was recovered from the steep hill.

When action resumed, Verstappen emerged on the soft tires and reclaimed the lead with a lap of 1:11.852. Hamilton and Alonso then edged Pérez through their efforts on the red-walled enclosure.

Pérez finished the session in fourth place ahead of the impressive Alexander Albon, with McLaren’s Lando Norris in sixth place. Williams’ successful session was completed by Sargeant finishing in P7 ahead of Oscar Piastri’s second McLaren, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finished ninth ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.

At the bottom of the board, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll failed to set a lap after an engine problem forced him back into the pit lane at the start.

2023 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:11.852 31 213.388
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:12.130 0.278 22 212.566
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.225 0.373 24,212.286
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:12.323 0.471 27 211.998
5 Alexander Albon Williams 1: 12.447 0.595 25,211.636
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:12.460 0.608 22 211.598
7 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:12.617 .765 30,211.140
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:12.658 0.806 21,211.021
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1: 12.749 0.897 21,210.757
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:12.802 0.950 29 210.604
11 George Russell Mercedes 1:12.813 0.961 23,210.572
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:12.895 1.043 30 210.335
13 Daniel Ricciardo Alpha Tauri 1:12.990 1.138 26 210.061
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:13.322 1.470 30 209.110
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:13.448 1.596 30 208.751
16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:13.519 1.667 26 208.550
17 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:13.826 1.974 20 207.682
18 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:14.023 2.171 13 207.130
19 Robert Shwartzman Ferrari 1:14.803 2.951 25 204.970
20 Lance Promenade Aston Martin – 2

Source link: https://www.fia.com/news/f1-verstappen-tops-fp1-ahead-alonso-f1-returns-action-zandvoort

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