Championship leader Max Verstappen topped the timesheets in an incident-filled first practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Verstappen set a time of 1:18.790, easing to the top spot in the opening practice session of the weekend. The Dutchman sat 0.4 seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton in second, with Perez third, 0.5 seconds down, albeit on the medium compound tyres.
Fernando Alonso had to settle for fourth place ahead of the Ferrari duo headed by Charles Leclerc.
READ MORE: F1 2023 Australian GP – FP1 Results
Many drivers were caught out by the green-track including Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in a twice-red-flagged session.
Red Bull have enjoyed early dominance in 2023 and their intent to remain top is made clear this weekend, already bringing a new front wing to Melbourne.
This dominance was displayed by the early pace of the Red Bulls, with Verstappen’s 1:18.790 on the soft compound placing him ahead of Perez who was 0.5 seconds slower on the mediums.
Lewis Hamilton struggled to get to grips with the Albert Park Circuit. Hamilton experienced a big snap of oversteer at the fast chicane, between Turns 9 and 10 but managed to escape any real drama.
Yuki Tsunoda also had a big moment. The AlphaTauri bounced through the grass and gravel and narrowly avoided contact with the barriers after a spin in Turns 1 and 2.
A series of close calls with traffic and off-track adventures saw the red flags fly. The FIA later confirmed GPS issues were the reason behind the stoppage.
The FIA added that the red flag was necessary for safety reasons with teams unable to monitor car position and closing speeds to other drivers.
The session got back underway with 15 minutes remaining, but the stoppage had interrupted fast runs for several drivers.
Verstappen became the next driver to spin when the championship leader exited Turn 4 facing the wrong way.
Moments later, Logan Sargeant ground to a halt at Turn 11. Replays confirmed a loss of power for the Williams which had shown some promising pace on the softs.
Sargeant’s stoppage brought out the red flags once more and an early end to FP1.
In the midst of the action, Hamilton managed to drag the Mercedes W14 into second on the timesheets, splitting the two Red Bulls.
The midfield looks to be highly competitive with just 1-second covering the top 13 drivers.
After a difficult start to the season, McLaren will be pleased after FP1 as they look to be involved in the fight. Lando Norris rounded out the session in 7th with teammate Oscar Piastri 0.2 seconds adrift in his first F1 visit to his hometown.
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