Championship leader Max Verstappen led team mate Sergio Perez by seven tenths of a second as drivers familiarised themselves with the revised layout of the Circuit de Catalunya.Esteban Ocon was the quickest of the team’s rivals.
Despite a 30% chance of rain being forecast for the opening hour of running of the race weekend, the teams were treated to clear skies and temperatures in the mid-20s. With so many teams introducing new parts on their cars for this weekend, all were quick to head out on track and get some early data on their upgrades.
Aston Martin sent Fernando Alonso out the moment the green light appeared at the end of the pitlane with a large aero rake installed on his AMR22. He performed some slow laps to generate some base data for his team on their new front and rear wings parts before returning to the pit lane.
Teams were also testing the new construction of tyres from Pirelli which are due to be introduced at the British Grand Prix in three rounds’ time. The vast majority of teams opted to run those prototype tyres for their initial laps, although the two Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both decided to complete runs on the revised rubber.
Verstappen set the early benchmark time of a 1’16.583 on medium compound tyres, before Perez moved to the top with a 1’16.420. Not to be outdone, Verstappen shaved four tenths of a second off Perez’s time to break into the 1’15s for the first time in the weekend.
Many drivers had their first experience of the much faster turn 13 as they bypassed the chicane which was introduced in 2007. However many drivers, including Verstappen and Russell, reported some porpoising in their car as they rounded the final right hander at speeds of 250kph.
The Red Bull drivers switched onto the soft tyres and immediately went much quicker. Perez posted a 1’15.374 to move to the top of the times, before Verstappen reclaimed the top spot with a 1’14.606 to go seven-tenths faster than his team mate.
That would remain the fastest lap of the session as no one would threaten his time for the remainder of practice. Teams spent the rest of the hour focusing on longer runs, with Alonso complaining about the viability of racing on the soft tyres he had been sent out on. In the closing moments, Pierre Gasly and Logan Sargeant made contact at the left hander of turn 10, but with no major damage done to either car.
At the end of the session, Verstappen was comfortably quickest from team mate Perez. Ocon finished the session in third, less than half a tenth behind Perez, with Nyck de Vries fourth-fastest in the AlphaTauri.
Pierre Gasly was fifth in the second Alpine, with Alonso sixth and Kevin Magnussen seventh. The two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr were eighth and ninth, though race control noted the latter may have committed an infringement when he performed his practice start. Sainz lined up directly behind Leclerc then pulled away before his team mate. The top 10 was completed by Russell’s Mercedes.
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2023 Spanish Grand Prix first practice result
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’14.606||31|
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’15.374||0.768||32|
|4||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’15.504||0.898||27|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’15.547||0.941||24|
|9||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’15.726||1.120||27|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’15.906||1.300||24|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’15.915||1.309||27|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’15.939||1.333||25|
|16||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’15.978||1.372||24|
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2023 Spanish Grand Prix
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