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2024 Bahrain F1 test: Verstappen tops opening morning as Albon stops on track

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the opening morning of the 2024 Formula 1 pre-season test at Bahrain, as Alex Albon stopped on track for Williams with a mechanical issue.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The reigning F1 world champion officially debuted the new-look Red Bull RB20, with its Mercedes-style sidepods, and he didn’t take long to return to his familiar top spot on the timesheet.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc put in a 1m33.685s as an early representative benchmark, but midway through the morning session Verstappen surged to the top on C3 compound tyres, with a 1m32.548s ending up his best effort.

That lap time is already three-tenths faster than Verstappen’s best that he topped the times with on the opening day of last year’s pre-season test.

Albon was the only driver to hit significant trouble on the track, as he stopped on the exit of Turn 2 after his Williams lost power going down the main straight with just 20 minutes to go in the morning session.

Williams is currently investigating the issue which saw Albon’s FW46 initially cut out and then fail to refire.

Leclerc’s best lap of 1m33.247s was enough to give him second place on the times, nearly seven-tenths of a second off Verstappen, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in third a further one-tenth back.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, in the pit lane

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, in the pit lane

Photo by: Motorsport Images

After a slow start to the morning with just nine laps completed in the opening hour, Oscar Piastri took fourth place for McLaren ahead of RB’s Yuki Tsunoda.

With most teams focusing on building up mileage, Mercedes had a low-key first session with George Russell sixth on the times having not focused on performance running, after he was the first driver to take to the track this morning.

Valtteri Bottas notched up over a grand prix distance for Sauber to take seventh on the times ahead of Albon for Williams.

Esteban Ocon had a skate over the gravel trap at Turn 4 after catching a snap in his Alpine, but he was able to continue relatively untroubled to ninth on the timesheet.

Kevin Magnussen rounded out the morning runners for Haas in 10th after his track programme was slightly hampered by a loose aero rake and then a suspected fuel system issue which his team was able to fix.

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