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Bahrain F1 testing: Verstappen edges Alonso to stay in charge on Day 1

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ended the first day of 2023 pre-season testing in Bahrain on top of the timesheets, setting a benchmark time of 1:32.837s after completing 156 trouble-free laps on Thursday.

Verstappen was the only driver to stay in the cockpit all day, meaning that none of the others taking part managed to follow him past the 100 lap milestone.

The reigning world champion had also been quickest of anyone before lunch with his time of 1:32.959s putting him ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

After the break he managed to reduce his time by just over a tenth. It kept him ahead of a late challenge from Fernando Alonso, despite the Spaniard missing out on track time when the team had to repair some floor damage on the Aston Martin.

Bahrain Pre-Season Test – Day 1 final

Pos Driver Team Time Tyre Laps
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.837s C3 157
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:32.866s C3 60
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:33.253s C3 72
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.267s C3 63
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1:33.462s C3 40
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.508s C3 83
7 Alexander Albon Williams 1:33.671s C5 74
8 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:33.723s C3 67
9 George Russell Mercedes 1:34.174s C3 69
10 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:34.324s C3 75
11 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:34.424s C3 51
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:34.558s C3 71
13 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 1:34.559s C3 85
14 Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin 1:34.564s C3 40
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:34.671s C3 46
16 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:34.822s C3 60
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:34.871s C3 53
18 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:34.888s C3 52
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:35.087s C3 57

Sainz’ earlier effort remained good enough to keep him in third place in the day’s final timesheets, just ahead of his team mate Charles Leclerc who had taken over in the SF-23 for the afternoon.

Fifth fastest was McLaren’s Lando Norris, despite the British driver missing out on track time as the team hunted down technical problems with the MCL60.

He managed only 40 laps, the lowest of the day shared with Felipe Drugovich who suffered an electrical problem on the Aston Martin early on. In total, the 19 drivers completed 1275 laps of Bahrain International Circuit on Thursday.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. 23.02.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One.

Lewis Hamilton returned to driving duty with the sixth quickest time of the day of 1:33.508s, after completing 83 laps during the afternoon and evening session, which included over an hour of night time running under the floodlights.

That put him just ahead of Alex Albon, although the Williams driver was alne in setting his fastest lap on the soft C5 rubber while everyone else stuck with the medium C3 for their flying laps.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was eighth, four tenths ahead of George Russell who had been in charge of the Mercedes W14 early in the day.

Rookie driver Logan Sargeant was tenth quickest just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, returning to the sport this year with Haas. Another rookie, Nyck de Vries, was 13th behind the wheel of the AlphaTauri.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 practices a pit stop. 23.02.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One.

After Drugovich was Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Pierre Gasly (Alpine), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), with Oscar Piastri 18th for McLaren and Kevin Magnussen slowest of those taking part in 19th for Haas.

Testing resumes tomorrow and will conclude on Saturday, with the first race of the 2023 season scheduled for next weekend on Sunday, March 5.

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