Championship leader Max Verstappen topped the opening practice session for this weekend’s 2023 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, beating Fernando Alonso by almost three tenths of a second as F1 returned to action at Zandvoort following its summer break. The session was interrupted by red flags, however, for a late crash involving Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg.
Verstappen, who is seeking a third straight win at his home race, was quickly into the groove at Zandvoort, topping the early running on Hard compound Pirelli tyres, setting a target time of 1:13.191.
None of the Dutchman’s rivals could match that pace and it wasn’t until the field began to switch to Soft compound tyres that Verstappen was dislodged.
Williams’ Logan Sargeant was the first to bolt on Soft tyres just before the halfway point, and his lap 1:12.814 jumped him to the top of the order. Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez then moved ahead with a lap of 1:12.439 set on Soft tyres, and the Mexican then lowered the benchmark further with a lap of 1:12.323.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was continuing to pound around on Hard tyres, a tactic matched by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and reserve driver Robert Shwartzman, who was standing in for Carlos Sainz. Neither Ferrari driver made a significant impact on the timesheet with Leclerc ending the session in P16 and Shwartzman in P19.
As the session moved towards its final quarter hour, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton looked on course to beat Pérez’s table-topper but he was forced to abandon the lap when Hülkenberg crashed. The German lost control in Turn 13 and slid backwards into the barriers. The red flags were shown and the session was halted for eight minutes as his car was recovered from the steep banking.
When the action resumed, Verstappen emerged on Soft tyres and he duly vaulted back to the top of the order with a lap of 1:11.852. Hamilton and Alonso then edged ahead of Pérez with their efforts on the red-walled compound.
Pérez ended 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 the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finished in ninth place ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.
At the foot of the table, Aston Martin's Lance Stroll failed to set a time after an engine issue early on forced him back to the pit lane.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max 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 Pérez 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 0.765 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 AlphaTauri 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 Hülkenberg Haas 1:14.023 2.171 13 207.130
19 Robert Shwartzman Ferrari 1:14.803 2.951 25 204.970
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin - 2