Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Verstappen quickest as Red Bull lead Aston Martin by seven tenths in first practice

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix first practice

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Max Verstappen put Red Bull quickest ahead of team mate Sergio Perez at the end of the first hour of practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The world champion, who arrived at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit later after recovering from a stomach complaint, set a best time of a 1’29.617. That put him just under half a second ahead of Perez and nearly seven tenths faster than Fernando Alonso in third.

The track temperature was a toasty 44C as drivers took to the track for the first time in the weekend in bright sunshine. All 10 teams had upgrades on their cars to test for the second round of the championship and were keen to get early data on their new devices. Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez both had difficulty exiting their garages in the tight Jeddah pit lane for the first time and needed to be pushed back slightly in order to avoid the pit wall.

Lando Norris set the initial benchmark lap time with a 1’34.400, but this was quickly beaten by Perez on soft tyres. Carlos Sainz Jnr had a close call with Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri around the fast turn 25 in the final sector but managed to avoid contact.

Fernando Alonso put Aston Martin on top of the times for the first time in the weekend with a 1’31.262 on soft tyres. But that was easily beaten by Perez, who produced a 1’30.592, while Verstappen posted a lap one second slower on his first timed lap of the weekend.

Alonso then returned to the top of the times with a lap less than a tenth of a second quicker than Perez, but he was replaced by Verstappen on soft tyres who set a purple middle sector on his way to P1, his time only 0.015s quicker than Alonso. Verstappen continued to improve on his own best time, gradually moving into the 1’29s.

The circuit had seen many modifications since last year to improve sight lines and safety, however Stroll still suffered a fright when he rounded turn nine to find De Vries and Kevin Magnussen off the pace on the racing line. The Aston Martin driver took to the run-off to avoid the cars, expressing his displeasure over team radio.

Many drivers found it difficult to get to grips with the revised turn 22, with Verstappen, Hamilton, Stroll and Pierre Gasly all running wide and over the kerbs of turn 23. Norris also received a black-and-white warning flag for appearing to fail to follow the race director’s instructions regarding the pit entry.

Verstappen improved his own best time in the closing minutes to set a 1’29.617 on the soft tyres, just under half a second ahead of Perez, with the chequered flag confirming that Verstappen would top the opening session of the weekend. Alonso was almost seven tenths slower than the championship leader in third, ahead of team mate Stroll.

The two Mercedes of George Russell and Hamilton were fifth and sixth, with Carlos Sainz Jnr seventh for Ferrari. Gasly, Alexander Albon and Yuki Tsunoda completed the top ten positions.

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix first practice result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB191’29.61718
211Sergio PerezRed BullRB191’30.1000.48320
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’30.3150.69822
418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’30.5770.96020
563George RussellMercedesW141’30.7711.15426
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’30.7871.17026
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’30.9241.30723
810Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’30.9491.33224
923Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’31.0301.41323
1022Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT041’31.1101.49325
1116Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’31.1181.50126
1231Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’31.1811.56422
1321Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Red BullAT041’31.4501.83329
1481Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’31.4911.87424
1527Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’31.5521.93522
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’31.5661.94923
172Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’31.9222.30526
1877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’31.9702.35325
1924Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’31.9862.36922
204Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’32.1492.53221

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2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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17 comments on “Verstappen quickest as Red Bull lead Aston Martin by seven tenths in first practice”

  1. Ves is lucky but then again he paid his dues like lewis did in the Seb era. A top 2 driver at the least will dominate and ves is going to. Perez is a joke teammate unlike say a Rosberg

    1. Perez is exactly like Webber was. Not wanted by any other top team but driving for the best team and more than happy in collecting the crumbs left by his much superior team mate.

      Perez, just like Webber, failed to be the runner up the year his team mate won by 150+ points.

      That’s the way they like to work. But different from Vettel, Max does look like the best driver paired with the best car. Vettel back then looked like a great driver driving the best car.

      1. That’s a bit unfair on Webber. Webber had a major problem with Pirelli tyres, and while that is indeed a weakness – his record in F1 on Bridgestone and in the WEC on Michelin tyres was solid. He may not be ranked among the greats, but he was definitely able to tussle with them from time to time. Like Barrichello, Webber also won quite a number of races on his own strengths but was ultimately no match for his quicker and more adaptive teammate.

        1. Marc Webber had the chance to win the World Drivers Championship and threw it away. All by himself.

          That’s his legacy.

      2. Perez is exactly like Webber was. Not wanted by any other top team

        Sure, that’s why Webber had all those offers, including Ferrari, on the table.

    2. Perez is no bigger joke than Bottas.
      Why was there no decent team who picked up Bottas 2 years ago? No McL , no Alpine, no Aston, let alone Ferrari. Because he is too average.

  2. Man this track is so awful. Just get no enjoyment watching cars driving around this lifeless & sterile place.

    But when it’s all about the money and not about the sport, fans or safety of team/drivers i guess this is what were going to end up with. A track designed more about hitting buzzwords/phrases, Been the fastest, longest street track with the most corners or whatever for the marketing material they can use during the sports-washing campaign.

    Liberty of course talk about how great them been there is because F1 will see the culture change but let’s be honest we all know thats complete & utter nonsense and that the lot of them only say it because they want the Saudi money so need to appease the government that is paying them millions to just ignore whats really going on.

    F1 really shouldn’t be there on such an awful, unsafe circuit in a country where rockets were been fired in the vicinity of the circuit a year ago. The whole situation is pathetic & everyone involved at Liberty, The FIA & F1 in general that go along with the hush money and sports-washing should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. @lynn-m My view on the track itself couldn’t be more opposite.

      1. Exactly! This is one of my favorite tracks to watch. The onboards are fantastic.

        1. It’s also miles better looking at night. I think the shots of the sea washing right up to the edges of the track and the water glowing different colors with the LED strip lighting running the length of the track look really spectacular. Only problem is that in this era they’ll throw an SC or a red flag if there’s even pebble on the side of the track.

    2. This is the fan that will defend Las Vegas track non stop. Those who only care about 1000 overtakes in a race with no interest in the type of tracks like Suzuka, France, Spa and Silverstone. All they want is overtakes non stop and crashes. You can argue about the country, but the track is superb for F1 speed lovers.

      1. Vegas is just such a gross city. Unless the track is absolutely amazing, I couldn’t ever see attending even though I live in LA, which is just a 40 minute flight away.

  3. Mega performance of Lewis, he outperformed the car by more than 3 tenths instead of being 1.5 second slower than the Red Bull he is only 1,17 behind.

    Oh wait that is just Mercedes PR – what does matter is that Lewis and Mercedes are just too slow and he is slower than his team mate as well.

    Reply moderated
    1. I’m just baffled by what mentality it is that persistently turns any possible situation into a Hamilton hate comment.

  4. Nothing unusual for an FP1.

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