Verstappen fastest in Italian GP FP1 as Ferrari lead the chasing pack

Red Bull and Ferrari were the frontrunners in the first session at the 2023 Italian GP

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Max Verstappen topped the timesheets for virtually the whole of FP1 for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix, getting his bid for a record-breaking victory at Monza off to the perfect start.

But Ferrari put on a good display for their home fans behind, and look like the favourites for a podium behind Red Bull, with Carlos Sainz second and Charles Leclerc fourth, split by Sergio Perez.

Most teams had a smooth session, with Brazilian development driver Felipe Drugovich finished 18th standing in for Lance Stroll at Aston Martin.

FP1 posed as many questions as answers, with drivers generally focussing on one tyre set in preparation for the ‘alternative tyre allocation’ qualifying on Saturday.

Alfa Romeo had a software issue that sent the car into anti-stall when either driver pressed the clutch. Bottas also complained of problems with the rear end of the C43 when going through medium-speed corners, later branding it ‘undriveable’, and Zhou revealed the car was ‘bottoming out like crazy’ later in the session.

So it’s not shaping up to be the best weekend for Alfa Romeo despite their stunning special livery – but both drivers told the team the car was better with ten minutes to go.

It was a tight top three on the hard tyres with Sainz less than half a tenth behind Verstappen and Perez 0.128 seconds further back before a bigger gap to Leclerc and George Russell was fifth, over half a second away from Verstappen on the hards.

Fernando Alonso was the first medium runner just two hundredths behind the Dutchman, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton also look like they have more to give on Saturday and Sunday six tenths back.

AlphaTauri were the surprise package of the session with Yuki Tsunoda ninth and just 0.002 seconds behind Hamilton, and Liam Lawson going well in 13th.

Dark horses Williams bide their time

Williams’ Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant were one of the success stories of the 2023 Dutch GP, seen here with personal trainer Ben Jacobs | Williams F1 Team

After a fantastic Dutch GP, Williams are one of the dark horses for a podium heading into Monza and Alonso even backed them to fight Ferrari as the main contenders behind Red Bull.

They were one of the quickest cars in a straight line at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring and certainly appear confident at Monza, as they waited in the garage for nearly half the session before setting a time, with tyres at a premium this weekend.

Alex Albon got all out of shape at the end of the Ascari chicane with 20 minutes to go but showed cat-like reflexes to keep his car out of the wall, on his way to finishing tenth.

Logan Sargeant was 12th but a further quarter of a second further back, so he’s got work to do over FP2 and FP3.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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