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Live: F1 Bahrain pre-season test - Day 3

Follow the live action as the Formula 1 Bahrain pre-season test concludes on Friday.

After its stunning 2023 season when it won all but one grand prix, Red Bull is the team everybody wants to beat and began the test in ominous fashion as Max Verstappen ended up over a second quicker than the field on the opening day.

But Carlos Sainz responded by topping day two for Ferrari, albeit on a softer tyre compound than Red Bull's Sergio Perez used, after red flag delays caused by a dislodged drain cover.

The Bahrain pre-season test will conclude on 23 February, with the day’s track action starting at 7am GMT (10am local time).

By: James Newbold, Stephen Lickorish, Sam Hall, Haydn Cobb

Summary

Summary
  • Charles Leclerc tops the final day of F1 pre-season testing for Ferrari
  • Test was earlier disrupted by a red flag due to another loose drain cover at Turn 11
  • Carlos Sainz headed Thursday's running for Ferrari after disruption caused by same issue
Leaderboard
  1. Leclerc, Ferrari, 1m30.322s, C4 - 74 laps
  2. Russell, Mercedes 1m30.368s, C4 - 67 laps
  3. Zhou, Sauber, 1m30.647s, C4 - 85 laps
  4. Verstappen, Red Bull, 1m30.755s, C3 - 66 laps
  5. Tsunoda, RB, 1m30.775s, C4 - 53 laps
  6. Albon, Williams, 1m30.984s, C4 - 121 laps
  7. Piastri, McLaren, 1m31.030s, C3 - 91 laps
  8. Alonso, Aston Martin, 1m31.159s, C3 - 75 laps
  9. Sainz, Ferrari, 1m31.247s, C3 - 71 laps
  10. Perez, Red Bull, 1m31.483s, C3 - 53 laps
  11. Hulkenberg, Haas, 1m31.686s, C3 - 89 laps
  12. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m31.999s, C5 - 49 laps
  13. Stroll, Aston Martin, 1m32.038s, C3 - 46 laps
  14. Norris, McLaren, 1m32.108s, C3 - 20 laps
  15. Gasly, Alpine, 1m32.149s, C3 - 47 laps
  16. Magnussen, Haas, 1m33.053s, C3 - 80 laps
  17. Ocon, Alpine, 1m33.079s, C3 - 55 laps
  18. Bottas, Sauber, 1m33.528s, C3 - 28 laps
  19. Ricciardo, RB, 1m37.015s, C1 - 70 laps
Status: Stopped

For now, it is goodbye but have a lovely few days and we'll do it all again starting next Thursday. Go well!

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Erik Junius

A huge thank you for following along with us over the last three days and we'll be back next week for the Bahrain GP, with FP1 starting at 11:30am GMT on Thursday - remember, the race is on Saturday!
Just like that, pre-season testing is over. The favourites tag has been firmly placed on Red Bull by almost everyone while Ferrari looks to be in decent shape as well. Where everyone else shuffles in, including if Red Bull and Ferrari are as strong as they appear, is a tricky task to solve, so it is time to crunch the numbers and provide the answers.
Here's the full report on the final day of testing: Leclerc pips Russell to top final session
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

That was 24 hours (interrupted by red flags and broken drain covers) of pre-season testing for the 2024 F1 season. The first round of 24 starts next week with the Bahrain GP on 29 February-2 March.
Another red flag follows to bring everyone back to the pits. That's your lot from pre-season testing as the chequered flag is displayed. Time's up, everyone go home.
The seven drivers taking part come around again and complete a proper start this time, with Hulkenberg blasting off from pole position. If that happens next week that'll be a real story.
Just like yesterday, the standing start is aborted and an extra formation lap is called. This is the kind of thing that needs to be tested but it hardly makes for thrilling action. I wonder if other sports practice technical procedures. Do football referees practice starting kick offs or sending players off?
Leclerc, Russell, Zhou, Tsunoda, Piastri, Alonso and Hulkenberg have ventured out to take part in this mock race start which at least makes for pretty pictures. Verstappen doesn't fancy it as he is out of his Red Bull and has taken his helmet off.
So, despite there being a few minutes to go it will mean Leclerc and Ferrari will end the day on top by just 0.046s from Russell and Mercedes.
The Virtual Safety Car has duly become a full safety car and then a red flag, so it is a systems check. The timing screen states the race will resume at 6:58pm local time with a standing start. If only.
Zhou has also switched to the C4s and goes third for Sauber with a 1m30.647s. He completes that lap just seconds before a Virtual Safety Car is called. We suspect this will be another systems check for race control, which will mean any meaningful running is done for the day.
Russell goes second fastest for Mercedes with a 1m30.368s - just 0.046s off Leclerc's leading effort. No headline grabbing for the Brit just yet.
Russell has ventured on to the C4 softer tyres, so he should be able to continue his climb up the leaderboard in the final few minutes of the day.
Tsunoda locks up at Turn 10 and takes to the runoff area to mess up his latest lap. Zhou, meanwhile, improves fractionally to go 10th with a 1m31.531s for Sauber.
It is worth pointing out that nobody has got near yesterday's top time of 1m29.921s that was set by Sainz for Ferrari. Given the track will only be improving in terms of grip levels, maybe a few are holding off from giving it full beans. Think sand and bagging.
Russell's first sector wasn't perfect so he was trying to catch up throughout the rest of the lap. His final sector, however, is the fastest of anyone today and he improves to post a 1m30.870s but stays fourth.
Albon goes fifth fastest with a 1m30.984s for Williams. Let's see what Russell can do next.
Tsunoda improves again with a 1m30.77s but stays third for RB, 0.453s off the outright top time set by Leclerc earlier today. Russell is back out on another fresh set of C3s, while Albon is on a set of C4s.
Down at Haas, its drivers have been providing insight into the new regime under team boss Ayao Komatsu - here's the full story.

"Engineers can't bull**** him, no one can bull**** him because he knows what's going on."

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

 
Russell has wound up his Mercedes for another quick lap on these C3 tyres. Again, it isn't a smooth lap but he improves fractionally with a 1m30.875s but stays fourth.
Just before that Zhou moved up to 11th for Sauber with a 1m31.805s on C3s.
Gasly's lost his front-right wheel brow, which has flown off under braking into Turn 1. He pits immediately and the marshals are called into action to clear up the debris.
Verstappen is out on fresh tyres! Ah, they are the C2s, so slightly harder tyres compared to the rest. Boo.
Meanwhile Albon goes eighth with a 1m31.464s on the C3s and Gasly goes 14th with a 1m32.149s on the C3s. The hour of power, also known as the Power Hour, is here.
It is a busy lap behind the wheel for Russell and he goes third with a 1m30.960s - but for mere seconds as Tsunoda on the C4s takes third off the Mercedes driver with a 1m30.835s.
Russell has lined up for a push lap on C3s, so what can he do?
Albon is also on fresh C3s but his lap goes awry as he goes wide at the final corner. His 1m32.054s puts him 12th but if it was qualifying he would've lost that lap time for track limits. Naughty, naughty.
Tsunoda, on fresh C3 tyres, goes sixth with a 1m31.399s. The C3 is the soft tyre for next week's Bahrain GP so it is more representative for this track in a qualifying sim.
Leclerc completes a practice pitstop and gets given some brand new C1 tyres for his Ferrari to continue on with his race sim.
 
Some sad news to bring you, former F1 driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi has died aged 80. We pass on our thoughts to Fittipaldi's family and friends.
Race runs, race runs, everywhere you look, race runs. Given the Bahrain GP starts exactly at this time next Saturday, it is the perfect time for it.
Tsunoda is the latest notable improver, a 1m31.945s on C3s puts him ninth for RB.
A little bit of racing breaks out, as Russell dives up the inside of Leclerc into Turn 1. The Brit got by without using DRS and while we don't know the engine modes make of it what you will.
Russell posts a 1m31.867s to move up to eighth on today's times for Mercedes. Most are still in the thick of the long runs given the representative conditions for next week's race.
Zhou has lifted himself off the bottom of the times, granted not totally intentionally, as he puts in a 1m36.713s to move up to 18th while on a long run.
This run by Red Bull is providing a perfect example of how the flow-vis paint works and what teams can learn from it. It shows exactly how the air is travelling over the part of the car and the effect it has.
Verstappen returns with a set of new C1 hard tyres and a splurge of flow-vis paint on the top of the right-hand sidepod.

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