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Formula 1 Bahrain February Testing

2023 F1 Bahrain test: Verstappen shades Alonso to top opening day of testing

Max Verstappen narrowly topped the opening day of 2023 Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain, as the Red Bull driver held onto the fastest time from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen, the only driver to run for the full day as all other F1 teams split their programmes, put in a 1m32.837s midway through the afternoon to improve on his effort that led the morning session.

It looked nailed on to give Red Bull top spot until a number of teams started to focus on performance runs on the softer compound tyres.

Alonso, on fresh C3 tyres, duly leapt to 0.029 seconds off Verstappen’s benchmark to cap a solid recovery by Aston Martin, after the team’s day endured a false start when Felipe Drugovich – standing in for the injured Lance Stroll – suffered a sensor issue on his first out-lap, which triggered the only red flag of the day.

The Spaniard also lost a chunk of the afternoon session due to floor damage, but recovered sufficiently to log 60 laps to couple up with Drugovich’s 40 laps from the morning.

But Verstappen remained on top by the end of the opening day, having notched up 157 laps in total, to show strong pace and reliability from Red Bull’s RB19 on its first public outing.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Ferrari also enjoyed a decent start to pre-season testing, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc third and fourth respectively, as the Italian squad comfortably pushed past a century of laps with the SF-23 F1 car.

But one of the teams to struggle on the opening day was McLaren, as Lando Norris lost time, stuck in the garage with the team repairing a wheel fairing issue. But the British driver did recover well to take fifth place on the combined timesheet, six-tenths off Verstappen’s leading effort.

Lewis Hamilton led a solid day for Mercedes in sixth on the final timesheet, as the German manufacturer stuck with its zero-pod design with the W14, while team-mate George Russell dropped to ninth having taken part in the morning session.

Alex Albon took seventh for Williams after debuting the FW45 before handing over to F1 rookie Logan Sargeant for the afternoon, with the US youngster in 10th place.

With Zhou Guanyu in eighth for Alfa Romeo, ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in 12th, F1 returnee Nico Hulkenberg produced an impressive start to his full-time comeback with 11th for Haas and 51 laps to his name – with Kevin Magnussen propping up the timesheet of a field covered by 2.2s.

Nyck de Vries took 13th ahead of his rookie F1 season for AlphaTauri, as Drugovich split him from team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, while Alpine quietly went about its work logging 113 laps with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon 16th and 17th respectively.

Bahrain F1 test day one times

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 157 1'32.837  
2 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 60 1'32.866 0.029
3 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 72 1'33.253 0.416
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 64 1'33.267 0.430
5 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 40 1'33.462 0.625
6 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 83 1'33.508 0.671
7 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 74 1'33.671 0.834
8 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 67 1'33.723 0.886
9 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 69 1'34.174 1.337
10 United States Logan Sargeant Williams 75 1'34.324 1.487
11 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas 51 1'34.424 1.587
12 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 71 1'34.558 1.721
13 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 85 1'34.559 1.722
14 Brazil Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin 40 1'34.564 1.727
15 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 46 1'34.671 1.834
16 France Pierre Gasly Alpine 60 1'34.822 1.985
17 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 53 1'34.871 2.034
18 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren 52 1'34.888 2.051
19 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 57 1'35.087 2.250

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