Verstappen tops first morning test session from Sainz

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F1 Test, Sakhir, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen ended the opening session of the 2023 F1 Pre-Season Testing on top, pipping Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz with Williams racer Alexander Albon setting the third fastest time.

Formula 1 pre-season testing started today in Bahrain with teams and drivers receiving three day to prepare themselves for the forthcoming season. All three days follow the same schedule, with running taking place from 10:00 until 14:15, and from 15:15 until 19:30 (all local time), pausing for a lunch break.

The majority of the morning session saw Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz sit on the top of the timesheets, but his benchmark was eclipsed by double world champion Max Verstappen thanks to a late push lap from the Dutchman.

The Hasselt-born driver set a time of 1m32.959s on Pirelli’s C2 compound, notching up a total of 71 laps.

Using the same compound, Sainz clocked a 1m33.253s to finish the opening morning in P2. The Spaniard carried out an intensive setup work after seemingly suffering from a loose rear end which massively affected the balance of his brand-new SF23 on the hot Manama track. The Scuderia managed to make tweaks to the setup of their new car, but the Madrid-born driver started to suffer from an understeery behavior on corner entry following the setup changes.

After reflecting positively on the shakedown test, Alexander Albon got the grips with Williams’ 2023 F1 this morning. The Thai-British racer completed a total of 74 laps, setting a benchmark of 1m33.671s which was enough for an eye-catching third spot in the overall standings. The Grove-based outfit concentrated on aero tests, carrying out multiple runs with aero rakes and flow viz paint to gather data which can then analysed and compared to simulations done back at the team’s Grove headquarters.

Returning to the sport following a three-year absence, Nico Hulkenberg completed only 51 laps for Haas in the morning, finishing sixth fastest as the chequered flag fell after 195-minute running.

Replacing the injured Lance Stroll, Felipe Drugovich finished seventh with a late effort. However, his day started with a technical issue which meant his car ground to a halt with an electrical issue only ten minutes into the session.

AlphaTauri’s Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda finished eighth for ahead of his former team mate Pierre Gasly, who took ninth in his Alpine. Awaiting his debut F1 race, rookie Oscar Piastri rounded out the standings for McLaren.