The two Red Bull drivers led the Aston Martins in the opening Formula 1 practice session at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
> Verstappen fastest in his first session of the weekend
> Perez beats Alonso to second with late improvement
> Ferrari drivers take new engines
Bahrain GP winner Max Verstappen missed Thursday’s media day in Jeddah after struggles with a stomach bug forced him to delay his flight.
But he came to the track on Friday and set a blistering pace in FP1 after spending the first 20 minutes of the session in the garage.
He set a series of flying laps on the soft tyres to take the top spot and his last improvement – a 1m29.662s with a few minutes to go – was almost half a second faster than his nearest challenger’s best time.
That nearest challenger proved to be his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who edged out Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin with a late flying lap.
Perez struggled to match his team-mate throughout the opening practice session and ended up 0.483s adrift.
“I don’t know what’s going on, I have no front end,” Perez told his team.
Lance Stroll spent the majority of the session over eight tenths slower than his Aston Martin team-mate Alonso in 11th place but moved up to fourth in the closing moments of the session – that lap left him around two and a half tenths off Alonso.
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George Russell was fifth fastest for Mercedes but his quickest lap was 1.154s slower than Verstappen’s benchmark. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was 0.018s further adrift in sixth place.
Both Ferrari drivers will have new engines this weekend in a move described by Ferrari as a “further precaution” after Charles Leclerc’s race-ending control electronics failure in Bahrain.
Carlos Sainz was the quickest Ferrari driver in seventh place ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who complained of “completely rubbish brakes” during the session.
The Turn 22 changes are proving to be a struggle for some 😳
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 17, 2023
The top 10 was rounded out by Alex Albon’s Williams and AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda with Leclerc, who will have to take a 10-place grid penalty for the race, 11th fastest.
The lead McLaren of Oscar Piastri was 1.874s slower than Verstappen’s fastest time in 14th, marginally ahead of the fastest Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Alfa Romeo drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were separated by just 0.016s in 18th and 19th – some 2.3s off the pace – with Lando Norris’s McLaren propping up the timesheet.
Practice 1 Results
|Pos||Name||Car||Best Time||Gap Leader|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m29.617s|
|2||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1m30.1s||+0.483s|
|3||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m30.315s||+0.698s|
|4||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m30.577s||+0.96s|
|10||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m31.11s||+1.493s|
|13||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m31.45s||+1.833s|
|18||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m31.97s||+2.353s|
|19||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m31.986s||+2.369s|