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Max opens Zandvoort weekend on P1

Published on 25 August 2023 by Florence Cobben

Max Verstappen was fastest in the first free practice of the Dutch Grand Prix. On the 4.252 meter-long circuit set in the dunes of Zandvoort, Fernando Alonso rode his Aston Martin into P2, followed by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in P3. Max’s Oracle Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez and Alex Albon in the Williams completed the top five.

The start of FP1 saw fine weather, with 21-degree track temperature. At Ferrari, Robert Shwartzmann sat behind the wheel of Carlos Sainz’s SF23 as part of one of the required rookie training sessions. Formula 1 teams are required to allocate two official trainings per season to a driver with less than two Grand Prix starts.

Max Verstappen is early on track, and the reigning champion places first on the timesheets after just his first flying lap. The Dutchman is on a set of hard tires and his car is coated with a layer of bright green flow-vis paint in different places. This is so the teams can control the airflow around the car.

It’s not long before viewers see a constant back and forth at the top of the timesheets for P1 between Max and both Mercedes. When the speedy Dutchman enters the pits after about 15 minutes of racing, he has an advantage of more than half a second. So far no Aston Martin driver has appeared on track.

After 5 minutes Max appears back on track. In the meantime, Lance Stoll has also started his drive, but the Canadian has to return to the pits almost immediately. His engineer informs him via radio that there is a problem with his car.

Halfway through the session Logan Sargeant takes P1 from Max, and later Perez claims P1 as well. Both drivers are on soft tyres. Max continues on the same hard tyres that he started the practice with. With 20 minutes left on the clock, he returns to the pits, with the expectation that when he reappears, the excited onlookers will see him driving on soft tyres.

With just eighteen minutes to go, the red flag is raised for Nico Hülkenberg. The German had lost control of the back of his Haas. He sped off the track at turn 13 and shot backwards into the tyre stacks.

With just 11 minutes to go, the track is cleared for racing. As the other drivers return to the track, Stroll does not appear- he will remain in the pits, citing problems with his power unit. Max appears on track with a fresh set of soft tyres, and manages to reclaim P1 from Perez. Behind him, Hamilton races into P2, which is then claimed, after a strong effort, by Alonso. In the final phase of the practice, the Zandvoort audience sees Max briefly go through the gravel in the Hans Ernst curve and with that, the first free practice is over.

Contest Dutch GP: win a 1:4 scale model Max Verstappen Dutch GP 2023 helmet!

Results first free practice Netherlands:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:11.852 31
2Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:12.130+0.278s22
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:12.225+0.373s24
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:12.323+0.471s27
5Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:12.447+0.595s25
6Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:12.460+0.608s22
7Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:12.617+0.765s30
8Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:12.658+0.806s21
9Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:12.749+0.897s21
10Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:12.802+0.950s29
11George RussellRUSMercedes1:12.813+0.961s23
12Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:12.895+1.043s30
13Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:12.990+1.138s26
14Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:13.322+1.470s30
15Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:13.448+1.596s30
16Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:13.519+1.667s26
17Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:13.826+1.974s20
18Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:14.023+2.171s13
19Robert ShwartzmanSHWFerrari1:14.803+2.951s25
20Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes---2