Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz topped the single one-hour practice session at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, edging out his team-mate Charles Leclerc. Red Bull and McLaren drivers were reluctant to show their pace ahead of the qualifying session. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 1.
With the Sao Paulo Grand Prix featuring the sixth and final special sprint weekend format of the 2023 F1 season, teams and drivers were once again in rush to fine-tune their cars before parc ferme rules kick in later on today.
Although Ferrari appeared to be slightly off the pace in the opening stages of the session, Carlos Sainz jumped to the top when he switched to the soft compound. The Spaniard clocked in a 1m11.732s on Pirelli's C4 compound, beating his team-mate Charles Leclerc by 0.108s.
Mercedes displayed encouraging pace both on the hard and the medium compound and both on high and low fuel. George Russell ended up third fastest with a lap on the yellow-banded tyre that he posted much earlier than the Ferraris.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton concentrated on race set-up in the middle part of the session before performing a qualifying run on the medium compound. The seven-time world champion was very quick in the second and third sector, but he made a mistake in the opening part of the track that is referred to as Senna S. As a result of his mistake, he ended up down in P12.
The Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finished an unusually-low 16th and 18th in the order as the Dutchman and the Mexican opted against running the soft tyre.
McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri came out on a set of fresh medium and soft tyres for a qualifying simulation respectively, but they did not complete their hot laps and they ended up bottom of the timesheets in 19th and 20th.
As a result of Red Bull's and McLaren's run plan, the sharp end of the timing sheets featured unusual names. Haas drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen took fourth and tenth with Alexander Albon, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Zhou Guanyu and Logan Sargeant slotting in between the German and the Dane drivers.
Following their strong showing in Mexico just a few days ago, AlphaTauri drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo posted the 13th and 14th quickest lap.
|4||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:11.928||+0.196s||19|
|5||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:12.044||+0.312s||28|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:12.136||+0.404s||26|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:12.184||+0.452s||31|
|8||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:12.481||+0.749s||27|
|9||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:12.579||+0.847s||30|
|10||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:12.592||+0.860s||24|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:12.615||+0.883s||28|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:12.714||+0.982s||29|
|14||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:12.778||+1.046s||27|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:12.779||+1.047s||30|
|16||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:12.793||+1.061s||30|
|17||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.012||+1.280s||31|
|18||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:13.056||+1.324s||31|
|19||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:13.629||+1.897s||25|
|20||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:13.838||+2.106s||28|