Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Verstappen pips Alonso by 0.029s as first day of testing ends

2023 F1 season

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World champion Max Verstappen put Red Bull at the top of the times, less than three-hundredths of a second faster than Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin in the first day of testing in Bahrain.

Verstappen improved on his own best time from the earlier session to end the first of the three days of testing on top for Red Bull. Alonso was only 0.029s slower than Verstappen’s best time, while the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc were both fourth tenths away from the world champion.

The earlier session saw Verstappen and Red Bull go quickest ahead of Sainz and Alexander Albon’s Williams. Verstappen was the only driver who drove both session: Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant all took over from their team mates for the second.

After an hour-long lunch break, the green light at the end of the pit lane signalled the start of the second four-and-a-quarter hours of running, but none of the ten teams were in a rush to take to the track.

Just before 15 minutes had passed, Verstappen became the first driver on circuit, soon joined by Norris, Hamilton, De Vries, Ocon, Leclerc and Sargeant. As drivers focused on getting familiar with their new cars, none of the afternoon drivers broke into the top ten on the timing screen in the early phase of the session.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: 2023 F1 pre-season testing day one in pictures
After Aston Martin’s Felipe Drugovich was delayed in the early session with electrical problems, Alonso was reportedly held up with minor floor damage. However, after almost a full hour in the garage, Alonso was able to rejoin the circuit and continue to gain experience in the team’s new AMR23. Norris was also frustrated by a lack of running across the opening two hours, with his MCL60 receiving work from McLaren’s mechanics at the front of the car.

As temperatures began falling as the sun started to set, the times began to improve. Hamilton moved his Mercedes up to third with a 1’33.671, a quarter of a second slower than Sainz. Then, fastest driver Verstappen bolted on a new set of C3 tyres and improved on his own best time over the first two sectors to lower the best time with a 1’32.837.

With the floodlights illuminating the circuit, Alonso pumped in the fastest final sector of the day to jump up to second, just 0.029s slower than Verstappen’s overall best. Leclerc also improved to a 1’33.287, almost matching team mate Sainz’s best time of the early session. Norris moved to fifth for McLaren, while Hamilton put in the sixth fastest time to move ahead of Albon’s time from the early session.

There were no red flag stoppages or significant on-track problems for any of the ten drivers during the second half of the day’s running. Verstappen completed the most running of the day with 157 laps for Red Bull, with Mercedes covering 152 laps, Williams 149 and Alfa Romeo logging 138. McLaren covered the least distance over the day’s running, recording 92 laps which was nine fewer than Aston Martin.

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2023 F1 pre-season Bahrain test – Day one times

Pos. Car number Driver Team Model Best time Gap Laps
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull RB19 1’32.837 157
2 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin AMR23 1’32.866 0.029 60
3 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’33.253 0.416 72
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’33.267 0.430 64
5 4 Lando Norris McLaren MCL60 1’33.462 0.625 40
6 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’33.508 0.671 83
7 23 Alexander Albon Williams FW45 1’33.671 0.834 74
8 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo C43 1’33.723 0.886 67
9 63 George Russell Mercedes W14 1’34.174 1.337 69
10 2 Logan Sargeant Williams FW45 1’34.324 1.487 75
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas VF-23 1’34.424 1.587 51
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo C43 1’34.558 1.721 71
13 21 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri AT04 1’34.559 1.722 85
14 34 Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin AMR23 1’34.564 1.727 40
15 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri AT04 1’34.671 1.834 46
16 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine A523 1’34.822 1.985 60
17 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine A523 1’34.871 2.034 53
18 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren MCL60 1’34.888 2.051 52
19 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas VF-23 1’35.087 2.250 57

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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41 comments on “Verstappen pips Alonso by 0.029s as first day of testing ends”

  1. I’ll wait for Q3 next week.

  2. 157 or more than 2 & a half race distances (for the relevant circuit) in a single day is a lot, which speaks volumes about reliability.
    Single lap times are always unrepresentative in testing, but still, some good attemps by Alonso.
    The long-run pace gives the most accurate indication of each team’s relative performance level, so I’m looking forward to this data the most over these three days.
    Mclaren still seems to have issues hampering their run plans like in last year’s Bahrain test, even if to a lesser extent, so possibly another difficult season-opener for them.

    1. I seemingly mistyped attempts, with the last ‘t’ getting left out unnoticeably.

  3. Anyone know how to stream / watch F1 in India this season? It seems both hotstar and star sports don’t have rights. Is that correct?

      1. But f1 tv doesn’t work on my smart TV. It’s only for phone, tablet and laptop.

        It’s a bummer if I can’t watch F1 on TV.

        1. Use your phone and “throw” or cast it to the TV.

        2. Hdmi cable from your laptop to the TV?

        3. Buy a Fire TV Stick/Chromecast with Google TV/any other android stick for ~$30-40 and you can install any app, including F1TV. Plus your existing apps will work better as a stick is probably more powerful than the hardware in your TV.

    1. F1 TV is available in India now. I switched over to it for this season since nothing is available at the moment. The streams worked on both mobile and web, and I was also able to get MultiViewer for F1 working on desktop.

    2. @Sumedh
      It is really sad that we dont have F1 on Team for the first time in a couple of decades i think.
      LG and Samsung occupy the top 2 positions in the Indian television market–yet neither of them have the F1 TV application available for installation. Further being the price sensitive people that we are, they have shot themselves in the foot by not launching F1 TV at the right teaser rate. 3000/- INR is 37.5 USD. It is still less than 50% of what it is available for in the USA but compare it to other streaming platforms within India, F1 TV is 2x the cost of the annual subscription for Amazon Prime.
      There was a recent survey which said that there are 31 millions F1 fans in India. Fans, not viewers. The rise in popularity was primarily due to its accessibility on FTA television–bars, restaurants, etc. Majority of them watch it on TV, not on their phones. They have just lost all of that.
      There is also a monthly plan, and even if you plan your subscription dates to match the races, it still is 33% more expensive than Prime.
      And it doesnt make sense to spend an additional 30-40 USD for a firestick or chromecast to watch F1 in India.

      1. Indeed.

        To watch just F1 on my TV, I will have to pay 3000 for F1tv, 3000 for firestick, go through hoops to install the firestick on my smart TV (which in itself is insane because firestick existed to make my earlier dumb TV into a quasi-smart TV. I don’t have any other use for the firestick).

        Surprising that Liberty doesn’t care about one of the largest and fastest growing markets.

  4. Well, of course, ESPN is not broadcasting this. I guess the bright side is they have 12 hadball matches, 9 Jai Alai matches and 5 Lacrosse games. .

    1. Don’t forget the Ohio state corn hole competition.

    2. You’ve heard of TV rights, yes? ESPN can’t simply “choose” to broadcast this.

  5. again i hear porpoising from the merc..:(

  6. That Williams with all the flow viz paint looks like an old Sauber

  7. Was that a PR stunt by Alonso or is the car really fast? Hmmm, I can’t wait to find out.

    1. None of them were fast, running a couple seconds slower than ultimate pace. Testing times are nonsense.

    2. A lot of cars were doing faster laps towards the end, and Alonso was one of them.

      But as noted, last years’ pole was a 30.5. Only the teams themselves really know what they’re doing, and even they have to guess a bit how that relates to the other teams.

      1. compare it with the times of the first day of test last year then you see they are 1 second faster…

  8. Watched a bit towards the end. Davidson mocking Croft’s inane shouting during live commentary was a welcome diversion. To his credit, he was a good sport about it – and was surprisingly level headed during this chat. Just goes to show he’s putting on a persona that, one presumes, the higher ups at Sky think appeals to the Average Joe.

    Impossible to really say anything about the times with everyone well off the pace. Seems most teams got a solid amount of laps in, which I suppose is all that really matters to them during these first two sessions.

  9. Good to know nobody has dropped the ball. It seems.

    1. Mclaren – “Hold my beer..”

  10. Would be good to know what tyre that the drivers were on for their fastest laps. Unfortunately I couldn’t give testing my full attention (work)!

    1. @asanator everyone on C3 except for Albon on the softer C4, de Vries on a prototype compound and the Alpines on the harder C2.

  11. Will Wood must be new to F1 if he thinks lap times on first day of testing mean anything.

    1. I don’t think he said anything in his report that implies he does think they mean anything…most of what he said is just reporting the facts.

      1. It’s the headline of the article! SMH Therefore the most important aspect – for him…

        1. But Max did have the fastest time by 0.029 seconds over Alonso. I think the headline you think you’ve read is “Red Bull still fastest, Aston Martin makes huge gains to rival top 3″. At least making a factually accurate headline is better than ” Nothing to see here, testing times are pointless”…

          1. It’s not about facts, it’s about focus.

        2. So what alternative headline would you run with if not to do with timing?

  12. More proof that McLaren have clearly given Lando a car that is made for him alone.

    1. @mick80
      Mate, calm down. It’s day one of testing.

    2. @mick80

      I really doubt that Norris’ driving style is so unique that no other driver can adapt to it.
      It’s only the first day of testing.. You’ll need to wait till Q1 to see Piastris hand.

  13. As always, no real surprises given that it’s testing and day 1.

    It’ll be interesting though to see how things move from the starting point, especially once they get to give them full beans towards the end.

    Characteristics tend to change fairly dramatically on some of the cars when they’re pushed to their limits rather than just tootling around gathering data.

  14. I was pleasantly surprised to see the full day’s testing being broadcast live on foxtel in Australia. That’s my evenings taken care of for a couple of days! On the face of it, the porpoising seems to have settled down to just about nothing now. Hard to believe the season is only a week away already!

  15. Testing is always a fun time… but the times really mean nothing. Verstappen’s fastest lap today would have had him qualifying 15th at the 2022 race. There is a lot more to come from these cars… because no one is really trying yet.

  16. The Skysports testing commentary team was atrocious. I’d rather have natural sounds than those people. But really, I’d rather have some people with more tech knowledge than what they read on an F1 site. Absolutely terrible. Glad we have Brundle and Croft on normal weekends, and I can barely stand Croft.

    1. That’d be because most of them are working for f1tv for pre-season testing. I too would prefer the raw trackside audio over bad commentary any day.

  17. Regarding Aston Martin f1, many said even alpha looked fast last time only fall by the wayside during the season, but this time for Aston Martin it’s not speed that matters, it’s about how stable it is, and in some analysis by planet sport or some website they said the car looked to respond well to Alonzo driving and the car looked stable in turn 10 and 11 that’s the thing you have to look for and not the speed Aston Martin did.

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