World champion Max Verstappen set the pace in the morning session on day one of pre-season Formula 1 testing in Bahrain.Carlos Sainz Jnr, with Alexander Albon third for Williams.
As usual the start of the first day of testing saw teams running with large aero rakes on their car to gather as much initial data as they could. All 10 cars ventured out on the track as the pit lane opened.
But less than ten minutes into the session, Felipe Drugovich pulled his Aston Martin AMR23 off the circuit at the exit of turn four with an electrical problem, bringing out the first red flag of the test.
After a delay of 20 minutes, the session resumed with the other nine cars taking back to the track. Verstappen set the first notable lap time of the test with a 1’35.655, before taking another eight tenths of a second off that soon after. Sainz had the privilege of running the Ferrari in the morning and he moved to the top of the times with a 1’33.767.
Just over an hour after stopping on track, Drugovich returned to the circuit in the Aston Martin. However, he returned to the pits after a single lap, with his electrical problem seemingly not resolved. Nico Hulkenberg lost a part of his front wing running over the kerb at the fast right-hander of turn six, but this did not affect Haas’ morning programme.
Times gradually got quicker as the track warmed up. Sainz improved to a 1’33.253, with Verstappen going three tenths slower than the Ferrari driver. Albon put the Williams FW45 third, four tenths slower than Sainz, with Zhou Guanyu half a tenth behind Albon in fourth.
With just under 40 minutes remaining until the lunch break, Verstappen set a new benchmark with a 1’32.959 on the C3 compound tyres, almost three tenths faster than Sainz’s previous best lap. The rest of the session ran without incident, with only a late scheduled Virtual Safety Car test interrupting proceedings.
As the chequered flag signalled the end of running, Verstappen remained on top of the times. Sainz was second-fastest, but set the quickest final sector in the session. Albon put Williams third, seven tenths behind Verstappen, with Zhou ahead of Russell’s Mercedes and Hulkenberg sixth in the Haas.
The majority of the teams covered a full race distance in the early session – only Haas, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri and McLaren failed to cover 300km in the early running. Williams covered the most laps of any team – 74 – only two ahead of Ferrari and three ahead of Red Bull. Unsurprisingly following their earlier electrical trouble, Aston Martin had the fewest laps with 40.
2023 F1 pre-season Bahrain testing: Day one, early session
|Pos.||Car number||Driver||Team||Model||Best time||Gap||Laps|
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||RB19||1’32.959||71|
|2||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’33.253||0.294||72|
|4||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||C43||1’33.723||0.764||67|
|7||34||Felipe Drugovich||Aston Martin||AMR23||1’34.564||1.605||40|
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