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Sainz sets early testing pace after red flag disrupts running

Pre-season testing for the 2023 F1 season has officially begun, with the opening session getting underway in Bahrain.

Proceedings got off to a slow start at the Bahrain International Circuit when the Aston Martin of Felipe Drugovich – who is standing in for Lance Stroll after the Canadian suffered a cycling accident during pre-season training – stopped out on the track.

The red flag was shown to allow for the AMR23 to be removed from the circuit, eating into valuable running time for the teams and drivers in action.

George Russell was first out of the pits when the green light eventually came on, with the Mercedes driver amongst those to put plenty of laps in during the morning.

Max Verstappen – who showcased the RB19 for the first time – and Carlos Sainz have also been busy while often swapping times at the top of the timesheets.

Rookies, returning faces and problems for some

As is usually the case in testing, several cars have been seen sporting aero rakes and flow-vis during the session. These are used to collect data.

Oscar Piastri was one of these, with the Australian kicking off his rookie F1 season with McLaren. There was also a returning face in the form of Nico Hulkenberg, who joined teammate Kevin Magnussen in unveiling the Haas VF-23 in the pit lane earlier in the morning.

Meanwhile, Drugovich’s running has been cut short by the earlier electronics problem with the Aston Martin, though the team were eventually able to get the Brazilian back out on track.

The opening session of Day 1 will run until
11:15 GMT, with a one-hour lunch break then taking place before the
afternoon session begins at 12:15 GMT.

Most teams will swap
drivers for the remainder of the day, but Verstappen will remain behind
the wheel of the Red Bull. He will share testing duties with Sergio
Perez on Friday before Perez takes over all day on Saturday.

Check out the Day 1 timesheets as of 09:15 GMT below.

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