Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Verstappen fastest on harder tyres than rivals in sole Austrian GP practice session

2023 Austrian Grand Prix first practice

Posted on

| Written by

World championship leader Max Verstappen set the pace in the only practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix, ahead of both Ferraris.

Verstappen set the best time on his final push lap of the session with a 1’05.742, almost a quarter of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr with Charles Leclerc third-fastest in the second Ferrari.

With just a single hour of practice time available for the weekend, drivers would have been relieved to be greeted by clear blue skies and a warm track to allow them to carry out their runs in perfect conditions. The many fans that had travelled to Austria greeted the world champion with cheers as he headed out on track and immediately beat Lewis Hamilton with his first flying lap to set the initial pace with a 1’08.094.

Sergio Perez moved ahead of his team mate at the top of the times as drivers acclimatised themselves to the circuit in the early minutes. Sainz and Valtteri Bottas both ran off at turn one as they tried to find their braking point for the uphill right-hander, while Yuki Tsunoda had a brief off at turn three.

Fernando Alonso used the medium tyres to move to the top of the times, before Verstappen beat the Aston Martin by a few hundredths while still on his original hard tyres. Hamilton then used the hard rubber to put his Mercedes on top with a 1’06.416 before the track fell quiet as teams returned to the pit lane to analyse data and make adjustments to their cars.

Williams took advantage of the clear track to send out Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant for their first timed runs of the day, before they were joined by a small group of cars including the two Red Bulls and Alonso’s Aston Martin. Drivers spent the middle phase of the session focusing on longer runs to prepare for both tomorrow’s sprint race and Sunday’s grand prix.

In the final ten minutes, focus turned to qualifying and outright pace. Ferrari sent both their drivers out on soft tyres, with Sainz going quickest of all on a 1’05.983, ahead of Verstappen who improved on his personal best time on medium tyres to go a tenth behind Sainz. Leclerc used the soft tyres to go third in the second Ferrari, with Hamilton fourth on the soft tyres.

As the chequered flag flew with time expiring, Verstappen improved on his final push lap to jump to the very top of the times with a 1’05.741, almost a quarter of a second quicker than Sainz. Leclerc also improved on his final lap, but was only just slower than his team mate in third.

Hamilton remained fourth ahead of Perez in fifth, with Lance Stroll sixth in the Aston Martin. Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas, ahead of Alonso in eighth. George Russell and Zhou Guanyu completed the top 10 positions. Lando Norris ended session at the bottom of the times in his updated McLaren, having not done a run on the soft tyres.

2023 Austrian Grand Prix first practice result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’05.74230
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’05.9830.24132
316Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’06.0120.27033
444Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’06.2510.50934
511Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’06.2620.52032
618Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’06.3400.59829
720Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’06.4970.75527
814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’06.6560.91431
963George RussellMercedesW141’06.6960.95428
1024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’06.7801.03833
1123Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’06.7941.05223
1281Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’06.8091.06736
1327Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’06.8461.10430
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’06.8471.10533
1522Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’06.9851.24334
1621Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’07.0171.27536
172Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’07.0181.27625
1831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’07.2021.46030
1910Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’07.2871.54528
204Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’07.3681.62620

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Austrian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

13 comments on “Verstappen fastest on harder tyres than rivals in sole Austrian GP practice session”

  1. Typical FP & I liked Yuki’s radio rant. Yet another for this year.

  2. Game over before it’s even started. F1 2023 is the worst season I can remember. So boring

    1. For the win it really is ,fight for other positions are still on.

    2. @Ben
      So um.. how far back does your memory go? Just asking

      1. I may be wrong but you are going to reference the Merc years right? IMO 14 & 16 were actually good years as there was a battle between teamates unlike 22/23 as checo is not on Max’s level. 17 & 18 was a good tussle between Lewis and Vettel and we all know about 2021. So really during the Merc rocketship era there was only 2015 and 2020 that were boring because even in 19 Leclerc put up a fight as did Seb in some races.

        This year you know even before the weekend starts who is going to win. At least if Checo was any decent you could enjoy an intra team battle and it would be less annoying that the RB19 is so quick.

        1. People don’t care to elaborate. It’s always “Mercedes era domination”.

          Even ’17 and ’18 in which Ferrari dropped the ball late in the season (after Spa 2018 and Vettel crushing Hamilton like that, the question was would Mercedes be able to resist that Ferrari form until the end) people talk as if it was a ’20 type of season, a sunday stroll, when it wasn’t.

          Hamilton didn’t even win any of the first 3 races in 2018.

          1. Was never a question for me (mercedes being able to resist), cause vettel on a good weekend would gain 7 points on hamilton and on a bad weekend he’d throw away 4 times as much, after the spa win I was like “that’s not gonna be enough with his mistakes”, and then you have monza, and it’s over.

            I also remember merc took till the 4th race to win a race, even though they looked marginally the best car in those to me, and I also think no team managed to win 4 races until the 12th race, it was really quite competitive between the 3 teams.

        2. thank you for putting things in perspective

      2. Agree, 3 years ago was even worse!

  3. No but it’s fun when your guy is winning…. This season is no worse than the other dominant ones – it’s just that Verstappen isn’t a popular guy in the UK.

  4. Coventry Climax
    30th June 2023, 19:15

    Fastest than? Huh? I thought it was faster than, or, simply, fastest.

    1. Coventry Climax
      30th June 2023, 19:16

      Or: Fastest, even on harder tyres than the competition.

      1. Yes, agree, as I read it it should be faster.

Comments are closed.