Bahrain F1 test: Verstappen firmly in charge on first day


Red Bull kicked off their 2024 campaign in ominously impressive form, with Max Verstappen topping the first of three days of pre-season testing at Bahrain with a best time of 1:31.344s after completing 143 laps.

That was over a second clear of Lando Norris who was second fastest in the McLaren. Norris completed 71 laps in the afternoon after Oscar Piastri was in the cockpit before lunch, while Verstappen ran the whole day.

Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll filled out the rest of the top six in the warmer afternoon conditions, with Williams the only team to suffer significant technical gremlins.


Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Day 1

1Max VerstappenRed Bull1:31.344s C3 143
2Lando NorrisMcLaren+1.140s C3 73
3Carlos SainzFerrari+1.240s C3 69
4Daniel RicciardoRB+1.255s C3 52
5Pierre GaslyAlpine+1.461s C3 61
6Lance StrollAston Martin+1.663s C3 54
7Charles LeclercFerrari+1.903s C3 64
8Fernando AlonsoAston Martin+2.041s C3 77
9Oscar PiastriMcLaren+2.314s C3 57
10Zhou GuanyuSauber+2.527s C3 63
11Logan SargeantWilliams+2.538s C3 21
12George RussellMercedes+2.765s C3 122
13Yuki TsunodaRB+2.792s C3 64
14Valtteri BottasSauber+3.087s C3 68
15Alexander AlbonWilliams+3.243s C4 40
16Esteban OconAlpine+3.333s C1 60
17Kevin MagnussenHaas+4.348s C3 66
18Nico HülkenbergHaas+4.562s C3 82

Verstappen had topped the opening morning session with a time of 1:32.548s and remained in the car for the afternoon as well, with George Russell still in the car at Mercedes

First out after lunch was Carlos Sainz who had t6aken over from Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, putting in a casual opening run of 1:38.865s. Russell, Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll were also soon in action during he first hour post-lunch.

Lando Norris held back, but shortly before the two-hour mark the mcLaren driver managed to displace Verstappen from the top of the timing screens with a lap clocking in at 1:32.484s.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38 locks up under braking entering the pits. 21.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

However it wasn't long before Verstappen nonchalantly went back on top with a time of 1:31.662s, and he passed the one hundred mark as the sun set over Bahrain International Circuit.

Despite his slow start to the day, Russell also passed the one hundred lap mark in the final hour of testing by which time the floodlights were in full effect. However his time was 2.7s off the Red Bull and only 12th overall.

Alex Albon had been the cause of the only yellow flag toward the end of the morning session after completing 40 laps. The team subsequently revealed had been a fuel pump issue: "The car goes into safety mode pretty quickly," said Albon.

Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW46. 21.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

"All fixed now," he confirmed, after turning the car over to Logan Sargeant for the afternoon. "We're trying to understand the car. We need to understand just how different the car is."

"We had the issue out on track, it wasn't picked up with virtual testing but I'm glad it was picked up now not next week," added Williams boss James Vowles. the fuel is bedded in quite deep in the car.

"There was plenty of fuel inside it," he added. "Plenty of fuel left inside it, but it couldn't use it!" Sargeant was the last man out after lunch once repairs were completed, and soon took a trip through the travel at turn 10.

Sargeant was soon back out on track to continue with his session despite some concerns among the Williams engineers about the rear of the car, and a driveshaft issue was eventually diagnosed limiting Sargeant to just 21 laps.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. 21.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Although there were no stoppages, there was a notable moment in the final 20 minutes when a piece of debris flew off Stroll's Aston Martin at the end of the straight; Ricciardo avoided it in the RB, but Hulkenberg's Haas hit it.

The engineers will check for damage overnight but there seemed little concern in the Haas garage. Between them, Hulkenberg and Magnussen completed the most laps of any team, with 148 pipping Red Bull's one man effort from Verstappen.

Tomorrow gets underway at 8am GMT for another eight hours of testing. Sergio Perez will take over from Verstappen at Red Bull, while Lewis Hamilton will get his first taste of the new Mercedes W15.

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