Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2023

Sainz heads Ferrari one-two and Norris and Hulkenberg collide

Formula 1

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Carlos Sainz Jnr set the pace in the sole practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc in Interlagos.

There was little to separate the Ferrari drivers, however many of their closest rivals opted not to complete flying laps on the softer compounds through the session.

The opening session of the weekend may have taken place under overcast skies, but the conditions were warm and humid as teams headed out of the pit lane for the first time. With teams afforded just a single hour of practice to tune their cars ahead of the rest of the weekend, naturally there was a rush of cars heading out of the pit lane as practice began.

All drivers took to the track of hard tyres for their first laps around Interlagos of the weekend. World champion Max Verstappen was the first driver out and wasted no time in getting up to speed, immediately posting a 1’13.950 to set the first time of the weekend. He would soon improve on that by eight tenths on his next push lap, while Sergio Perez went within half a second of his team mate.

The two Mercedes slotted in behind the Red Bulls at the top of the timing screen, Lewis Hamilton just ahead of his team mate George Russell in fourth. Fernando Alonso was in the top five in his Aston Martin before he was called in by his team for a suspected punctured tyre.

Drivers were vocal in their complaints about the wind around Interlagos, with Verstappen and Leclerc complaining about inconsistent winds into the first corner of the circuit. The fast entry into the pit lane caught out Oscar Piastri, who was new to the circuit, the McLaren driver locking up on the way to the pit entry line.

After 20 minutes, Yuki Tsunoda was the first to set a lap on the medium tyre compound, going quickest of all with a 1’12.802. Verstappen remained on the same set of hard tyres he started with and improved on his next run to go quickest of all by a handful of thousandths of a second, before Russell became the first driver under a 1’12 to go quickest on mediums.

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Lando Norris and Nico Hulkenberg then had a potentially dangerous incident into the final braking zone of the lap at turn 12 when Norris attempted to pass the Haas into the left hander. The pair collided lightly with the McLaren’s right-rear brushing Hulkenberg’s left-front. Hulkenberg returned to the pits while McLaren told Norris they were not concerned he had picked up any damage from the contact. The stewards later announced they would investigate the incident after the session.

Alonso remained in the pits after his earlier puncture, but Hamilton was also forced to abandon a run and return to the pits with Mercedes noticing a left-rear puncture on his car. Logan Sargeant suffered a concerning problem with his Williams as his right front wheel was lifting into the air through the many right hand corners in the middle sector.

Russell’s best time remained untouched until the closing minutes when some drivers chose to run on the soft tyres. The two Ferraris were two of those drivers, with Sainz going quickest of all with the soft tyres with a 1’11.732, a tenth faster than Russell’s previous best on mediums. Leclerc moved into second with his lap on soft tyres, just ahead of Russell in third.

That order remained until the chequered flag with Sainz going quickest, Leclerc second and Russell third. Despite his contact with Norris, Hulkenberg ended the session in fourth with Alexander Albon fifth for Williams.

Lance Stroll was sixth for Aston Martin ahead of Pierre Gasly, Zhou Guanyu and Sargeant ninth. Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten as neither of the Red Bulls nor the McLaren drivers opted to set a flying lap on anything but hard tyres.

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2023 Brazilian Grand Prix first practice result

155Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’11.73230
216Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’11.8400.10832
363George RussellMercedesW141’11.8650.13331
427Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’11.9280.19619
523Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’12.0440.31228
618Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’12.1360.40426
710Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’12.1840.45231
824Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’12.4810.74927
92Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’12.5790.84730
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’12.5920.86024
1114Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’12.6150.88328
1244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’12.6380.90630
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’12.7140.98229
143Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’12.7781.04627
1531Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’12.7791.04730
161Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’12.7931.06130
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’13.0121.28031
1811Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’13.0561.32431
194Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’13.6291.89725
2081Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’13.8382.10628

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2023 Brazilian Grand Prix

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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...

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3 comments on “Sainz heads Ferrari one-two and Norris and Hulkenberg collide”

  1. Billy Rae Flop
    3rd November 2023, 16:02

    Ferrari on pole, redbull or mercedes win

  2. Has to be said what a good job Hulk is doing this year. He’s basically finishing Magnussen.

    1. Magnussen should’ve been finished a long time. Anyway, TBF, it might not have been a fair comparison. I didn’t pay attention to them specifically, but this was the most unrepresentative practice session of the season. Teams were doing wildly different things with often split duties and not that many laps. Was really hard to figure out if any of the times meant anything.

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