Formula 1

Max Verstappen leads the pack after day one of Bahrain testing

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Credit: Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

With the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship soon to begin, teams took to the track at Bahrain International Circuit for pre-season testing, looking to gain knowledge and data on the cars they have developed through the winter break– giving fans a first look at this year’s contenders and preview of how the upcoming season could shake down. 

Thursday’s morning and afternoon testing sessions ended with current World Champion Max Verstappen on top with a 1:32.837. Verstappen was the only driver to be in the cockpit for both sessions yesterday, with Red Bull Racing electing to divide their schedule in blocks. About three hundredths behind was Fernando Alonso, with an impressive result for his new crew, Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

The Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari slotted into third and fourth, an optimistic result for a team that is facing high expectations after a competitive showing in 2022 and the new leadership of Frédéric Vasseur

Ferrari’s front wing was cause for attention, with its nose appearing to have a “dimple” under braking due to a lack of structure under the carbon fiber. We have since learned that this interesting occurrence is not intentional and will be remedied. 

McLaren’s Lando Norris was next on the standings in fifth place with a 1:33.462– having completed the least number of laps of the day, tied with Felipe Drugovich at 40– followed closely by Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team with a 1:33.508. 

Both Williams Racing cars landed in the top ten, with Alexander Albon finishing in seventh and Logan Sargeant in tenth. Sergeant had the highest finish of the day of any of the grid’s rookies. 

Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake’s Zhou Guanyu and Mercedes’ George Russell also appeared in the top ten, ending the day in eighth and ninth respectively. 

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Many new and familiar faces appeared in the second half of the standings, including returnee Nico Hülkenberg, finishing in eleventh for Haas F1 Team with a 1:34.424. Donning a special testing helmet inspired by his own mullet hairstyle, Valtteri Bottas brought his Alfa Romeo around for twelfth with a 1:34.558

Scuderia AlphaTauri Rookie Nyck de Vries slotted into thirteenth place, with Felipe Drugovich just five thousandths behind in fourteenth. 

Drugovich filled in for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who was unable to participate after a bike accident. His morning session was curtailed by an electrical issue that led to him stopping on the side of the track and causing a red flag. Alonso also had his session shortened due to checks being done by mechanics on the Aston Martin’s floor. 

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda ended the day in fifteenth, followed by the BWT Alpine F1 Team pairing of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon— a team that several in the paddock agree may prove to be particularly competitive when it comes time to race. McLaren Rookie Oscar Piastri and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen rounded out the grid, with a 1:34.888 and 1:35.087.

With the whole field covered by just around two seconds and solid work done by all the teams, testing will continue in Bahrain on Saturday and Sunday and the grid prepares for the highly anticipated season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team
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