Charles Leclerc ends pre-season testing on top in Bahrain

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F1 Test, Sakhir, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Ferrari’s Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc posted the quickest lap on the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain to end the running on top ahead of Mercedes racer George Russell and Stake F1 driver Zhou Guanyu.

Clearly the teams don't want to reveal too much and will also only know the complete picture next week but Ferrari do look strong with improved consistency and reduced tyre degration.

"I'm excited to be back on track", said Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur. "For sure it's better to be at the top than down the back, but you don't know about the fuel loads of the others or the engine settings. The important thing for us is the feeling of Carlos and Charles and they both seem happy with the feeling in the car and the driveability. We also have to stay calm with this, trust the feedback and know we have a lot to do on the development - for sure Red Bull are ahead."

Ferrari have been saying since day one that Red Bull is ahead, and surely they are, given that Verstappen ended today at just 4 tenths with a lap on used C3 tyres compared to the softest compound for Leclerc. The latter tyre however isn't ideal for Bahrain either whereas the C3 will be the soft compound for the Bahrain race weekend.

Mercedes also seemed fairly happy with their day as they team tried an modified version of their front suspension with a different chassis mounting or the rear upper wishbone. The team didn't experience any major problems and saw George Russell go second fastest near the end of the day on a fresh set of C4 tyres.

Kick Sauber had a handy day with Zhou quietly doing a lot of laps and just before the FIA started their own procedure testing by waving a red flag he crossed the line to go third fastest of the day.

Yuki Tsunoda and Alexander Albon also enjoyed good runs on the C4 tyre to end up 5th and 6th fastest.

Behind them was Oscar Piastri who was notable for unusually high tyre degradation. On track at the same time as Alonso did his simulation, Piastri noted considerably more pace regression and was 1s a lap slower by lap 11. Neither of the two seemed to go for outright performance laps. Alonso had some performance runs earlier but did not do any on the soft C4 or C5 compounds.

Sainz and Perez completed today's top ten with their time in the seat before lunch.