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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15
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Analysis

What Bahrain trackside viewing reveals about F1 2024

Formula 1 testing’s long sessions mean plenty of time to amble around the Bahrain track to observe how the new 2024 machines are handling in places the championship’s TV cameras can’t spot. At Red Bull, things appear very familiar, but there’s a few surprises elsewhere…

Where else to start, but Red Bull. The reigning world champion squad did have something of a tricky start to testing when Max Verstappen was regularly having to back out of corners on the opening morning. But it’s all relative and, in any case, the RB20 looked utterly planted by mid-morning on Wednesday.

A day later, with Sergio Perez at the wheel, it was a similar story. Each time the Mexican driver made his way through the high-speed left of Turn 7 at the start of the second sector in the opening session of the test’s middle day, he was able to whip his car’s nose through the continuous rotations quicker than his rivals. It’s a visibly faster change of direction – and not just here.

PLUS: What we learned on day two of 2024 Bahrain F1 testing

At Turn 11 at the end of the track’s back straight, the Red Bull sweeps in with commanding agility, whereas its rivals are more sluggish. This could be a sign of a heavy fuel load, but the rapid rotation trend has been clear for Red Bull ever since it lightened the RB18 mid-way through this design era’s opening campaign two years ago.

The car just looks planted at all the key spots – other than Perez misjudging his braking on the odd occasion into the Turn 8 hairpin and varying his line a lot coming out of the tricky, near double apex Turn 13, which is effectively the track’s penultimate corner. This is a key spot, which we’ll return to, for several reasons.

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