World championship leader Max Verstappen set the pace in the only practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix, ahead of both Ferraris.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
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’05.742||30|
|2||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’05.983||0.241||32|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’06.262||0.520||32|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’06.340||0.598||29|
|8||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’06.656||0.914||31|
|10||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’06.780||1.038||33|
|14||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’06.847||1.105||33|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’06.985||1.243||34|
|16||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’07.017||1.275||36|
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