Mercedes’ George Russell topped the timesheet ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in an opening practice session for the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix that was disrupted by rain and by two red flags for crashes involving Red Bull’s Sergio and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Under grey skies, the opening hour of practice got underway with Russell leading Williams’ Alex Albon out on track. They were immediately followed by AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciado, the Australian replacing Nyck De Vries for the remainder of the season and making his return to F1 competition for the first time since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The former McLaren driver was denied any meaningful running at the start of the session, however, as within three minutes the session was halted when Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez crashed.
The Mexican put two wheels on the grass on the approach to Turn 5 and the resulting spin set him into the barriers, damaging the front left corner of his RB19. The red flags were displayed while the Red Bull driver’s car was recovered but during the caution light rain began to fall across the track.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas went out to test the changed conditions but the Finn spun at Turn 12 and as the rain continued drivers stayed in the garage waiting for the shower to pass. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc all took turns to sample the wet track but after tentative efforts all returned to the pit lane as the session reached the half way mark and the rain intensified.
With a little over 15 minutes left in the session, Bottas went out again, on Intermediate tyres, and the Finn duly set the first timed lap of the day, taking P1 with a lap of 1:47.787.
Logan Sargeant then moved to top spot for Williams, ahead of team-mate Albon, but within moments the red flags appeared again when Sainz spun on the exit of Turn 3 and slid off track. The Spanish driver brushed the barriers on the right-hand side but with the help of track marshals he was able to rejoin and make his way back to the pit lane.
In the final five minutes of the session, Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg took P1 before being ousted by Fernando Alonso. The Aston Martin driver’s time of 1:43.277 was beaten by Leclerc, who stopped the clock at 1:42.909 before Alonso jumped back to the top with a lap of 1:40.687.
Russell then bumped the Spanish driver down to P2 with a lap of 1:40.444 and though the Mercedes driver was briefly ousted by McLaren’s Piastri he eventually claimed bragging rights with a lap of 1:38.795.
Piastri finished in second place, almost four tenths of a second down on the Mercedes driver, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll third ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris and Alonso.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 George Russell Mercedes 1:38.795 13 159.639
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:39.154 0.359 14 159.061
3 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:40.013 1.218 10 157.695
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:40.277 1.482 13 157.280
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:40.687 1.892 8 156.639
6 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:41.032 2.237 14 156.104
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:41.142 2.347 12 155.935
8 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:41.363 2.568 9 155.595
9 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:41.416 2.621 15 155.513
10 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:42.706 3.911 12 153.560
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:42.906 4.111 14 153.262
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:45.575 6.780 7 149.387
13 Alexander Albon Williams 1:47.407 8.612 10 146.839
14 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri RBPT - 7
15 Carlos Sainz Ferrari - 6
16 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing - 2
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine - 4
18 Pierre Gasly Alpine - 3
19 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing - 4
20 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes