Perez beats Hamilton to end pre-season test on top

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F1 Test, Sakhir, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Clocking a time of 1m30.305s, Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez fund himself on top of the leaderboard as the three-day pre-season testing came to a close today. F1Technical’s Balázs Szabó reports on the last day of the Sakhir test.

As the test was approaching its end, teams switched their attention to some performance runs under the lights with lap times starting to plummet down.

After focusing on balance checks and longer runs in the morning session, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez conducted some short runs on PirellI’s soft compounds in the afternoon. While several teams tried out the Milan-based manufacturer’s softest compound, the C5 tyre, the Mexican stuck to the C4 compound, although even this compound allowed Perez to outpace his rivals.

Perez’ benchmark of 1m30.305s put him clear of the second fastest driver Lewis Hamilton by 0.359s. The Briton seemingly did not find the sweet spot of his new W14, making unusually many mistakes in the early afternoon. However, when he bolted on the C4 and C5 compounds, he suddenly found harmony with his car with only the last corner proving to be a weak point.

His teammate George Russell ended up eighth fastest, but he set his own best lap much earlier in the day when temperatures were significantly higher. The two Mercedes drivers racked up a total of 148 laps, making up for the lost ground which they suffered yesterday due to a hydraulic problem.

Following a mechanical problem in the morning Valtteri Bottas bounced back in the afternoon to end up third-quickest for Alfa Romeo, just half a second off the pace.

Ferrari’s drivers finished line-a-stern in fourth and fifth, with Charles Leclerc’s setting his benchmark of 1m31.024s in hot conditions. His teammate Carlos Sainz conducted qualifying simulation right after the lunch break which allowed him to switch his focus to long runs on high fuel for the last two hours of the test.

Yuki Tsunoda joined the group of drivers conducting glory runs in the closing stages of the pre-season testing. The Japanese driver ended up sixth fastest after logging in 79 laps with his team mate Nyck de Vries finishing down at the bottom of the board.

Using the C4 compound for his fastest lap, Kevin Magnussen finished seventh in the Haas, while his new team mate Nico Hulkenberg finished 15th on C3s, having run in the morning.

Aston Martin rounded off an impressive test with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Drugovich completing the top 10. The two-time world champion racked up an impressive tally of 80 laps while the team’s reserve driver logged in 77 laps of running.

McLaren had another difficult day as the wheel brows threatened to detach from the car. The Woking-based outfit logged in a total of 81 laps with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finishing 11th and 16th fastest respectively.

Alpine had another smooth, albeit anonymous day with Pierre Gasly driving in the morning before Esteban Ocon taking over for the afternoon. The former AlphaTauri driver finished 12th, two places ahead of his new teammate Esteban Ocon.