Verstappen edges out Alonso and Hamilton in opening practice


Ahead of today's opening session, the air temperature is 20 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees. It is overcast and very windy, with a 30% chance of rain.

There isn't much in terms of upgrades this weekend, Red Bull has a new Beam wing, Mercedes a new Floor edge, Sidepod inlet and Beam wing, while McLaren has a new Rear wing and Beam wing.

At Aston Martin there's a new Floor, Floor fences, Floor edge and Diffuser, while Haas has new Front wing, Nose and Rear corner and AlphaTauri has new Rear wing endplates.

There is one reserve/young driver on duty this morning and that is at Ferrari where Robert Schwartzman is in Carlos Sainz' car.

The lights go green and Tsunoda leads the way, followed by Magnussen, Russell, Norris and Hamilton. As more drivers head out it is a mixture of mediums and hards.

Local hero Verstappen is among the first out, while Albon and the Aston Martins are last to show.

Magnussen posts the first time of the weekend, a conservative 16.910, on the hards.

Schwartzman is told to keep an eye on his mirrors as Verstappen goes top with a 15.393.

Posting a 16.451 to go eighth, Ocon is told to keep pushing and go for a second lap. He duly responds with a 15.701.

Russell goes quickest (14.901), ahead of Verstappen, Perez, Sargeant and Ocon. The first three are all on hards.

Quickest in the final two sectors, Verstappen crosses the line at 14.360.

Twelve minutes in and Alonso finally appears, leaving teammate Stroll as the only 'no-show'.

Verstappen complains that his front tyres are "really cold", as Hamilton posts a 13.954. However, the Dutchman responds with a 13.275.

On the hards Albon goes fourth with a 14.525, just ahead of his Williams teammate.

Leclerc reports "something strange" with his front-left.

Sargeant improves to third with a 14.292 as he complains that his rears are gone.

After 15 minutes of running, only 14 drivers have posted times, while Stroll, who missed yesterday's press conference due to feeling unwell, has yet to appear.

Gasly improves to fifth on the hards and Bottas to sixth on the mediums.

Alonso improves to 14th with a 16.301 as teammate Stroll finally emerges.

Bottas goes third (13.875) on the mediums.

Alonso improves to eleventh with a 14.520, just 0.010s down on Russell.

As he begins his first flying lap Stroll is told to abort and pit. "I hear a funny noise," says the Canadian.

Russell (hards) splits Verstappen and Hamilton with a 13.741. However, his teammate responds with a 13.623.

Sargeant is the first driver to switch to softs, the American immediately going quickest with a 12.814, setting purples in all three sectors.

Next to make the switch is Perez. Unsurprisingly the Mexican subsequently goes quickest with a 12.439.

Albon (softs) goes second with a 12.447 and Gasly (also softs) fourth with a 12.930.

Perez isn't entirely happy with the balance of his car, particularly in medium speed corners.

Zhou is unhappy at being blocked by Ocon, a situation that is likely to become the norm tomorrow particularly in Q1.

"Wow! What, my God," declares Verstappen after being impeded while on a hot lap. The Dutchman is currently fifth, still on the hards.

PBs is all three sectors see Ricciardo go fifth with a 12.990.

Magnussen goes seventh (13.322).

Now on softs, Hamilton goes quickest in S1. However, he has to ease off when Hulkenberg goes off at Turn 13. Initially the yellows are waved, but then the red.

Replay shows he lost the rear after carrying much speed into the corner and span off into the gravel, the gradient of the banking helping to slow the car and thereby prevent any major impact with the barriers.

The session resumes with 11 minutes remaining and Albon leads the way, followed by Sargeant, Bottas, Ocon and Verstappen.

Hamilton heads out, clearly eager to pick up where he left off.

Soon, all bar Stroll and Hulkenberg are on track.

On the softs, Verstappen posts an 11.852, Hamilton goes second with a 12.225.

A 12.130 sees Alonso go second as Piastri goes seventh and Norris eighth.

"The throttle went off by itself just now," reports Ocon.

Ricciardo goes eleventh and teammate Tsunoda twelfth.

Norris improves to sixth (12.460), as Schwartzman reports that the rear of his Ferrari is "super unstable". Leclerc is currently 16th, 1.667s off the pace.

As Hamilton goes quickest in S1, Russell improves to eleventh with a 12.813. The seven-time world champion subsequently backs off and aborts the lap.

As the session ends Verstappen goes wide in Turn 12, a number of drivers clearly affected by the wind.

Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Alonso, Hamilton, Perez, Albon, Norris, Sargeant, Piastri, Tsunoda and Ocon.

Russell is eleventh, ahead of Gasly, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Bottas, Leclerc, Zhou, Hulkenberg, Schwartzman and Stroll.

Check out our Friday gallery from Zandvoort here.

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Published: 25/08/2023
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