Sergio Perez tops final morning in Bahrain

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F1 Test, Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Red Bull's Mexican driver Sergio Perez topped the timesheets on the third and final morning of 2022 pre-season testing in Bahrain before the session was red-flagged by the FIA to carry out software checks.

Red Bull Racing introduced a raft of updates on the final day of the Bahrain’s Official Pre-Season Test, with the revised RB18 breaking cover on Saturday morning. It was Sergio Perez who was tasked with exploring the characteristics of the new car with the Mexican spending the majority of the session by working constantly on set-up changes.

The two-time race winner completed a total 43 laps on Saturday morning which was his last chance to get to grips with the new RB18 ahead of next weekend’s season opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Perez ended the morning fastest with a time of 1m33.105 before he used the final part of the session to carry out a series of pit stop practices and a standing start simulation.

Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou finished second with eight tenths of a second separating him from the benchmark. The Chinese driver used Pirelli’s C4 compound on his best lap just as Perez did. The Alfa Romeo racer enjoyed a trouble-free session, racking up a total of 82 laps which could prove hugely important following the Italo-Swiss squad’s troubles during the Barcelona shakedown test.

AlfaTauri’s Pierre Gasly ended up third fastest, completing the highest mileage of any drivers on Saturday morning. The French driver was followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who sacrificed the first part of his day for set-up changes before completing two long runs in the second half of his session.

Fernando Alonso ended up only fifth fastest despite multiple trials on Pirelli’s softest compounds. McLaren’s Lando Norris had another difficult morning due to the team’s persisting brake issues. The Woking squad brought new parts to rectify their brake overheating issue, but they seemingly need to continue to work on their technical gremlins.

Eighth-placed Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll ticked off a half-century of tours and finished marginally ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The Briton racked up a total of 78 laps, completing a two-stint race simulation with the first stint consisting of 18 laps and the second one of 14 laps.

Hamilton seemingly needed to get around Mercedes balance issues on the final morning which the team has had since the beginning of the Bahrain test, but the consistency of his long run performance was encourining, suggesting that the car works better on heavy fuel load.

Haas’ Dane driver Kevin Magnussen ended the final morning slowest, finishing by over five seconds behind Perez. Magnussen competed only 38 laps due to a water leak, then a fuel leak. The American team will continue the final day of the Bahrain test with Mick Schumacher who will receive two more hours later into the evening after Haas was forced to miss the opening morning due to freight issues.