Verstappen ends final day of Bahrain testing on top

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Max Verstappen concluded F1's pre-season test in Bahrain at the top of the timesheet, the Red Bull driver lowering the benchmark to 1m31.720s to finish 0.695s clear of the field.

The Dutchman, running at the wheel of a revised RB18, overhauled early pace setter Charles Leclerc to lay down a marker ahead of next week's season opener at Sakhir.

Verstappen relied on Pirelli's softest C5 tyre to comfortably edge Leclerc who set his fastest lap on the C4 compound.

Fernando Alonso who topped the mileage chart with 122 laps, delivered to Alpine a satisfactory third fastest time, the Spaniard also fitted with C4 rubber on his best flyer.

Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Day 1

Pos Driver Team Time Tyre Laps
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m31.720s C5 53
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m32.415s C4 51
3 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1m32.698s C4 122
4 George Russell Mercedes 1m32.759s C5 71
5 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1m32.985s C3 68
6 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1m33.002s C5 57
7 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m33.105s C4 43
8 Mick Schumacher Haas 1m33.151s C3 58
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1m33.191s C3 90
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1m33.821s C4 81
11 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 1m33.959s C4 82
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1m34.865s C4 91
13 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m34.905s C5 68
14 Alexander Albon Williams 1m35.171s C3 18
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1m35.634s C3 124
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1m36.029s C3 53
17 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.217s C5 78
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1m38.616s C2 38

The afternoon session was about to conclude its first hour when Verstappen finally took to the track, with Red Bull rolling out an RB18 that featured revised sidepods and front wing.

The Dutchman jumped to the top of the timesheet after 90 minutes, with a time that was 0.460s clear of Sergio Perez's morning benchmark and over a second ahead of the rest of the field.

However, with an hour and a half left on the clock, Leclerc sprung to the top, edging Verstappen by 0.230s. But the Red Bull driver eventually reclaimed the top spot with an effort that clearly demonstrated the pace and the efficiency of Red Bull's updated RB18.

Behind the top three, George Russell who had taken over from Lewis Hamilton lined up fourth in the pecking order despite a W13 that still looked very much on the edge.

A late flyer by Valtteri Bottas earned the Alfa Romeo a spot among the top five, the Finn clocking in just ahead of AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda.

Perez's morning best was good enough for P7 overall, while Haas' Mick Schumacher eclipsed the fastest time set by his teammate Kevin Magnussen, the young German claiming ninth ahaed of McLaren's Lando Norris.

Alex Albon and Nichola Latifi were the only other drivers to take to the track in the afternoon, with their best efforts placing then respectively P14 and P15 overall.

Like yesterday, Haas was awarded an extra hour of running to cap its pre-season test in Bahrain.

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