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Bahrain F1 pre-season test stopped again by loose drain cover

Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain has been red-flagged early into the third and final day of running due to a second case of the circuit drain covers becoming dislodged.

Damaged track kerbs

Jake Boxall-Legge

The four-hour morning session was halted after only 27 minutes after a drain cover came loose on the outside kerbs on the approach to the Turn 11 uphill left-hander.

This appeared to be triggered by Red Bull driver Sergio Perez running over the strip - although the Mexican did not exceed track limits - with his RB20.

At the time, Thursday pacesetter Carlos Sainz also topped the leaderboard for Ferrari courtesy of a 1m31.247s lap, moving him 0.861 seconds faster than McLaren pilot Lando Norris.

It seems that the particular kerb is the same one that was dislodged after two hours and 22 minutes of track time on Thursday morning.

FIA race director Neils Wittich drove the medical car to the scene to inspect the damage.

F1 subsequently released an update stating that the session is due to resume at 1145 local time (0845 GMT), meaning a delay of around an hour and a quarter, with the lunch break again being cancelled. 

Marshals and race control work to fix a loose drain cover

Marshals and race control work to fix a loose drain cover

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Thursday’s incident occurred as the drivers completed long run programmes.

Charles Leclerc shifted the cover before the debris was struck by the Ferrari driver - causing damage to the floor of his SF-24 - and MercedesLewis Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso, who separated the pair on track, managed to steer round the debris.

This first incident triggered a delay of 40 minutes before the morning session was abandoned.

Incidentally, most affected was Perez, who had completed only 20 laps following an earlier brake problem, so he was given the RB20 for the rest of the afternoon to compensate for the disrupted run plan.

Perez should have only driven in the morning and then would have had the car to himself for all of Friday. However, owing to the disruption, he remained in the cockpit for the second half of Thursday.

The change will mean reigning three-time champion Max Verstappen is in the hot seat for the final stint on Friday afternoon should he wish to complete a late qualifying simulation.

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