Max Verstappen looked in control of proceedings throughout the first practice session for the British Grand Prix and ended it quickest by four tenths of a second.
Verstappen remained on top of the times until the mid-point of the session, when several drivers began to fit the soft compound tyres. Logan Sargeant was among the first to do so, and used the updated Williams to go third-quickest at one stage.
Carlos Sainz Jnr finally displaced Verstappen with a 1’29.357 on his soft tyres. His team mate Charles Leclerc made it a one-two ahead of the Red Bull pair, the two Ferraris split by six-hundredths of a second.
“I tried something in the last two corners, it didn’t work,” Leclerc revealed after a later run. “Copy, understood, we’ve seen it,” replied his race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros.
The Alpine drivers also showed some good pace on the soft tyres. Esteban Ocon, who complained of poor performance through Silverstone’s few slow corners at first, went quickest, while Pierre Gasly took up fourth behind the Ferraris.
This arrangement of the top places was only ever going to be temporary, and sure enough almost as soon as the Red Bull drivers put on softs they brushed Ferrari, Alpine and the rest aside. Sergio Perez couldn’t do the job on his first lap, falling 0.053s short of Leclerc, but his team mate did.
Verstappen looked slightly ragged on his first flying lap, taking a lot of kerb at the exit of Chapel and Stowe. But he kept his foot in, and a 1’28.836 put him on top by 0.444s. He found another two-tenths on a subsequent lap to extend his advantage.
Fernando Alonso put his Aston Martin second, but he was doomed to be replaced by another Mercedes-powered car. Not the works team nor the recently-updated McLaren which went so well in Austria, but the Williams of Alexander Albon, bearing a special livery to mark the team’s 800th grand prix, a milestone it will reach at the next race. Only one other driver managed to beat Albon’s time: Perez, by a mere four-hundredths of a second in the Red Bull.
Behind Alonso, Leclerc, Ocon and Sainz came Lando Norris in the first of the McLarens. Team mate Oscar Piastri, running the updated car for the first time, was 10th but suffered a hydraulic leak. Stroll split the pair in the second Aston Martin.
Nyck de Vries ended the first session in 11th place, having started it with a harmless spin into the gravel at Luffield. He ended up four-tenths of a second quicker than his team mate as AlphaTauri evaluate a substantial upgrade package.
The first Mercedes was a lowly 12th. Neither Lewis Hamilton nor George Russell ran the soft tyres during the first session, but nor was either driver happy with the performance of their W14. Hamilton was wrestling with his car at several points around the lap, and gave it straight to race engineer Peter Bonnington: “Balance is pretty bad, mate.” Russell asked for his steering to be looked at after complaining about various vibrations.
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2023 British Grand Prix first practice result
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’28.600||26|
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’29.048||0.448||22|
|4||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’29.268||0.668||21|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’29.357||0.757||25|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’29.471||0.871||26|
|11||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’29.691||1.091||26|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’30.090||1.490||22|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’30.092||1.492||28|
|18||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’30.321||1.721||20|
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2023 British Grand Prix
- Norris is “growing” closer to the champion who inspired him to race
- Second supplier part failure ‘a frustrating issue we must solve’ – Alpine
- Albon ‘surprised’ to be quicker than Alonso at end of British GP
- Bottas admits Alfa Romeo ‘were expecting to be better than this’ in 2023
- McLaren now “finding performance quicker” after emulating Red Bull’s design