Max Verstappen tops first practice session at Zandvoort despite Hulkenberg red flag

Max Verstappen topped FP1 at the 2023 Dutch GP ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

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Max Verstappen got his 2023 Dutch Grand Prix weekend off to the perfect start by topping FP1, as he bids for a third straight home win a record-equalling ninth consecutive win in Formula 1.

There’s rain forecast for all three days of the Dutch GP weekend but that stayed away for FP1, giving a first indication of the running order after the summer break.

Nico Hulkenberg provided the biggest incident of the session, when he lost control seemingly innocuously going into turn 13 and spun nearly a full circle before tapping the tyre barrier with his front wing.

According to team boss Guenther Steiner, Haas only have one more of the newly designed front wing at Zandvoort so the team will need to decided whether to risk that in FP2.

Lewis Hamilton was going purple when the red flag came out and had a frustrating end to the session, abandoning another lap late-on due to traffic, but still came home third at four tenths behind Verstappen.

Fernando Alonso was second, while Sergio Perez completed the top four around half a second behind his teammate.

Logan Sargeant was the first driver to put on the softs and actually topped the timesheets at the halfway point of the session, Williams enjoyed a strong end to the session with Albon fifth and Sargeant seventh, splitting the two McLarens led by Lando Norris in sixth.

Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten, the latter just a hundredth of a second ahead of George Russell. Meanwhile Robert Shwartzman made his first appearance of the season filling in for Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, but didn’t get much chance to show his best.

Even at the end of the session he didn’t get to try the soft tyres, and Shwartzman complained about rear instability as he finished 19th.

Aston and McLaren keep cards close to their chest

Fernando Alonso during 2023 Hungarian GP | Aston Martin F1 Team

There were some interesting run plans from Aston Martin and McLaren, who’ve both brought upgrades to the circuit.

Aston Martin in particular have revamped their floor but Alonso didn’t set a competitive time for well into the session, before eventually ending up second.

That was still more than Lance Stroll could manage though, he returned to the pits complaining about a ‘funny noise’ from the AMR23, that was later diagnosed as a power unit issue.

Stroll was unable to set a time, reminiscent of his return from the winter break in 2023 where he started off on the back foot.

McLaren also went for over a third of the session without really showing their hand, but Norris ended the session six tenths behind Verstappen.

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