Event: Brazilian Grand Prix
Track: Autodromo Interlagos

Weather: dry 29.8°C
Tarmac: dry 42.8°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: 11.5 km/h S
Pressure: 920 mbar

First Free Practice Report

São Paulo's iconic Interlagos circuit played host to a gripping and frenetic first practice session for the 2023 Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix. The session was a blend of quick laps, technical snags, and close encounters as drivers tackled the legendary track under overcast skies, with a slim 20% chance of rain adding a tinge of unpredictability.

With only an hour allocated for FP1, courtesy of the weekend's Sprint format, teams were under pressure to optimize their setups and strategies. Red Bull was in the spotlight, aiming to correct last year's rare misstep at this circuit, while Mercedes and Ferrari sparred for dominance, each showcasing their respective late-season surges and persistent challenges.

Early into the session, Alpine's Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly grappled with brake and tyre issues, a precursor to the technical hurdles that would continue throughout the practice. The track temperature sizzled at 40°C, possibly contributing to a flurry of incidents, including Carlos Sainz's near-miss with a kerb-induced spin and an on-track collision between Nico Hulkenberg and Lando Norris, setting the stage for post-session scrutiny by the stewards.

Max Verstappen quickly stamped his authority with a blistering 1m 13.950s lap, but it was Mercedes' George Russell who, after switching to medium tyres, soared to the top of the timesheets, nine-tenths ahead of the pack. This assertive lap served as a reminder of Mercedes' potent form at Interlagos, bolstering hopes for a repeat of last year's success.

The session was punctuated by the strategic juggling of tyre compounds, with teams keen to conserve their mediums for the consequential sprint and race days. This conundrum led Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner to reveal a focus on soft tyre runs, considering their ongoing battle with tyre wear.

On the softs, Yuki Tsunoda made a statement by clocking the fastest time, only to be eclipsed by Russell's aforementioned flyer. Meanwhile, mechanical gremlins haunted several teams: Daniel Ricciardo faced floor damage, Logan Sargeant's Williams suffered a suspension issue, and Fernando Alonso reported a slow puncture, underscoring the session's chaotic undertone.

Halfway this first free practice session the top 10 order was: 1. George Russell -  1:11.865 min (M), 2. Fernando Alonso +0.750s (H), 3. Max Verstappen +0.928s (H), 4. Yuki Tsunoda +0.937s (M), 5. Sergio Pérez +1.191s (H), 6. Lewis Hamilton +1.591s (H), 7. Lando Norris +1.764s (H), 8. Charles Leclerc +1.1817s (H), 9. Nico Hulkenberg +1.834s (H) & 10. Carlos Sainz +1.905s (H).

As the wind intensity increased, Red Bull advised a cautious Verstappen, who continued on hard tyres, contrasting with several drivers' switch to mediums in pursuit of data for race simulations. Yet, in a curious twist, some drivers, including Oscar Piastri, aborted fast laps despite promising sector times, hinting at possible strategic plays or undiagnosed car issues.

In the final analysis, the session concluded with Russell's lap standing as a benchmark, Hamilton gearing up on mediums, and teams like McLaren left to ponder the potential repercussions of on-track tussles. FP1 at the Brazilian Grand Prix has set a tantalizing stage for a weekend of high-octane racing and strategic gambits, with all eyes now turning to the upcoming qualifying and sprint race.

The quickest sector times at Interlagos during FP1 where:

  • Sector 1: 16.638 sec. by Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60 #81.
  • Sector 2: 36.514 sec. by Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60 #81.
  • Sector 3: 16.410 sec. by Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23 #16.

Last year Sergio Pérez was quickest in FP1. The Red Bull driver then clocked a 1:11,853 min on Soft Pirelli tyres.

FP1 Times Table 2023 Brazilian GP

P No Driver Team Time 1st Gap Laps Tyres
1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:11,732 30 🔴S
2 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:11,840 +0,108s 32 🟡M
3 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:11,865 +0,133s 31 🟡M
4 27 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:11,928 +0,196s 19 🔴S
5 23 Alex Albon Williams 1:12,044 +0,312s 28 🔴S
6 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:12,136 +0,404s 26 🟡M
7 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:12,184 +0,452s 31 🟡M
8 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:12,481 +0,749s 27 🔴S
9 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:12,579 +0,847s 30 🔴S
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:12,592 +0,860s 24 🔴S
11 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:12,615 +0,883s 28 ⚪H
12 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12,638 +0,906s 30 🟡M
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:12,714 +0,982s 29 🟡M
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri 1:12,778 +1,046s 27 🟡M
15 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:12,779 +1,047s 30 🟡M
16 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:12,793 +1,061s 30 ⚪H
17 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:13,012 +1,280s 31 🟡M
18 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:13,056 +1,324s 31 ⚪H
19 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:13,629 +1,897s 25 ⚪H
20 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:13,838 +2,106s 28 ⚪H

✅ Check out our 2023 Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix preview.

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