Verstappen pips Alonso to open F1 testing
SAHIR, Bahrain – Reigning world champion Max Verstappen was in the lead on the opening day of pre-season testing as F1 returned to action in Bahrain.
The three-day test at the Bahrain International Circuit is the only chance teams will have to run their cars on the track ahead of the opening race at the same track next weekend.
There were 19 drivers on ten cars on the first day, and Red Bull were the only team to not split track time between two drivers on Thursday, as Verstappen had been driving all day. Teammate Sergio Pérez will share Friday’s run with Verstappen before driving all day on Saturday.
Verstappen completed a total of 157 laps on Thursday and set his best afternoon lap of 1:32.837, about 2.3 seconds short of last year’s pole position time at the same track.
Thursday saw the first look at Red Bull’s new RB19, which the team chose not to show at the season opener in New York earlier this month, but appears to be an evolution of last year’s championship-winning car.
“[The car is] It’s kind of an evolution from last year, Verstappen told reporters after the test session. – I think last year was more of a time when you really adapted to the car, really understanding what you need to do.
“Of course, with all the knowledge from last year, I think it’s a lot easier for everyone to start coming back here. It’s nice to see the new car, how it has evolved compared to last year, how the behavior has changed a bit. and also because of the tires.
“It was a good day to figure it all out.”
Verstappen finished the day 0.029 seconds faster than Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in second place and 0.415 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in third place. All three riders set their times on the same C3 tire compound.
Alonso posted his best time towards the end of the session, when track conditions were at their best, although at this stage of testing, lap times are not always the best indicator of true performance.
The only 2023 driver not present at this week’s test is Alonso’s Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll. The Canadian injured his wrist in a cycling incident earlier last week and while he is not excluded from next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Aston Martin could not confirm if he would recover in time.
“Last week he was training, trying to work on his fitness, riding his bike and he had a little incident and injured himself,” Aston Martin team principal Mike Krak said on Thursday. “As a precaution, we decided it was best to wait a bit and be ready next week.
“He was wounded in the arm, in the wrist. But I don’t want to go into details because it’s privacy.”
On Thursday morning, Aston Martin decided to replace Stroll with reserve driver Felipe Drugovic, although the F2 champion’s time in the car was slightly limited due to an electrical problem, which was also the only red flag of the day.
Lando Norris was fifth at McLaren using a C3 tire compound, ahead of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in a new Mercedes W14, also on a C3.
After eight consecutive constructors’ titles from 2014 to 2021, Mercedes struggled over the past year, winning just one race in 22. The team claims to have figured out where it was wrong in 2022 and says it has applied lessons from its disappointing campaign to it. year W14.
The new car is clearly an evolution of some of last year’s W13 concepts, but team principal Toto Wolff said the bouncing problems that plagued Mercedes early last year appear to have been resolved.
“There are no bounces, which is good news, except for a big bump at the end of the straight,” Wolf said. “Good starting point. We get a lot of data that is important to compare with last year and try different things.
“[Last year] knew we were in trouble because the car was bouncing around and we really couldn’t steer it properly. [Today] very different.
“Now we have a very solid base to work with and are trying to optimize the car, which we haven’t done yet, it’s really just a rework, are there any areas that could really hurt performance like last year with bouncing. Now we have to work out the program.”
Alex Albon was seventh fastest on the Williams team with a C4 rubber compound and only slightly faster than Zhou Guangyu’s best Alfa Romeo C3 result. Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest of the two Haas drivers, finishing 11th overall in the C3, while rookie Nick de Vries set the fastest time for the AlphaTauri, finishing 13th in the C3 prototype.
Alpine took the lowest place of the ten teams on Thursday after using the C2 lineup for the fastest laps, but with a good total of 113 laps and no prizes for higher places, this is unlikely to bother the team at this stage. preseason.
Final time of day 1:
1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:32.837 – 157 laps – C3
2. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin – +0.029 s – 60 laps – C3
3. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari – +0.416s – 72 laps – C3
4. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari – +0.430 s – 64 laps – C3
5. Lando Norris – McLaren – +0.625s – 40 laps – С3
6. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – +0.671 s – 83 laps – C3
7. Alexander Albon – Williams – +0.834s – 74 laps – C4
8. Zhou Guangyu – Alfa Romeo – +0.886s – 67 laps – C3
9. George Russell – Mercedes – +1.337s – 69 laps – C3
10. Logan Sargent – Williams – +1.487 s – 75 laps – С3
11. Niko Hulkenberg – Haas – +1.587 s – 51 laps – С3
12. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo – +1.721 s – 71 laps – C3
13. Nick de Vries – AlphaTauri – +1722 – 85 laps – C3 (prototype)
14. Felipe Drugovic – Aston Martin – +1.727 s – 40 laps – C3
15. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri – +1.834s – 46 laps – C3
16. Pierre Gasly – Alps – +1.985 s – 60 laps – C2
17. Esteban Ocon – Alpine – +2.034 s – 53 laps – C2
18. Oscar Piastri – McLaren – +2.051 s – 52 laps – C3
19. Kevin Magnussen – Haas – +2.250 s – 57 laps – С3