Brazilian GP 2023

NOVEMBER 3, 2023

Practice 1 Report - Ferrari ahead

Carlos Sainz
© Ferrari

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at the top of the time sheets after late efforts on Soft tyres during the only Free Practice Session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, on the day Formula 1 announced an extension of the contract to keep the race in Interlagos until the end of the 2030 season.

As usual on sprint events, teams had very different programs for the one 60 minutes practice session, with the final standings reflecting more the programs they did than the relative competitiveness of all the cars.

Only eight drivers ran with the softest compound, another ten did one run with Hards and one with mediums and Red Bull opted to have Verstappen and Pérez running the entire session with one set of the harder compound, saving an extra set for the rest of the weekend.

The two Ferrari drivers followed similar programs, doing a quick time early with Hard tyre, followed by a long run on higher fuel load – both to check tyre degradation and to make sure the plank wouldn't wear too much on this bumpy track, to guarantee there won't be a repeat of the infraction that excluded Leclerc from the US Grand Prix results. Other teams split strategies. At Mercedes it was George Russell who did a short qualifying simulation, but on the medium tyre, last year's race winner being third quickest but just 0.1s away from Sainz's best, who was running with the softer compound. Hamilton also used one set of Medium tyres but didn't run with low fuel, so he was only 12th quickest, 0.8s behind his team mate.

Red Bull's option to run with the same set of tyres the whole session meant that after being fastest of all early on, Verstappen and Perez dropped to the back of the field as they continued to run with a lot more fuel than their rivals, so the Dutchmen was only 16th quickest with Pérez two places behind. The World Champion did a very impressive long run showing that even on a track that doesn't particularly favor the RB19, Red Bull is still the hot favorite to win.

Interlagos master Nico Hulkenberg was 4th quickest for Haas, but the German had a couple of incidents that affected his session, having made contact with Norris in the penultimate corner after failing to see the McLaren driver overtaking him and turning in, to hit the right rear tyre of the McLaren with the left front of his Haas; then he felt a sudden loss of power after going over the hard kerbs on the exit of Turn 4, pitting immediately and ending his running with 16 minutes still to go.

Alex Albon and Lance Stroll gave Williams and Aston Martin encouraging starts for their weekends, in 5th and 6th place, respectively, with Gasly, Zhou, Sargeant and Magnussen completing the top ten. The American had a difficult session, as a set-up mistake left him with a car that had one of the front wheels off the ground in virtually every corner for one run, but after that was corrected, on slightly used tyres, he got inside the top ten, albeit still half a second away from his team mate.

AlphaTauri had a very solid practice session with Tsunoda and Ricciardo very evenly matched in 13th and 14th place.