Verstappen fastest as F1 testing begins
By Mat Coch
Thursday 23rd February, 2023 - 10:32pm
Two-time world champion Max Verstappen has ended the opening morning of F1 pre-season testing fastest.
The Red Bull driver clocked a 1:32.959s in the latter minutes of the four-hour outing to head Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon.
Oscar Piastri meanwhile was 10th and last on the timing screens, the Australian clocking 52 laps with a best time of 1:34.888s.
It was a difficult start for Felipe Drugovich, who rolled to a halt shortly after leaving the pit lane inside the opening 10 minutes.
His Aston Martin, adorned with an aerodynamic rake, made it only through the opening complex before pulling off the road.
The red flag was shown for the car to be retrieved, making its way back to the garage about half an hour later.
It remained there for a period before Drugovich was back out on track just after 11:00 – an hour after running had begun – though he returned to the pits soon after as the electrical issue reared its head once more.
By that time, all 10 drivers had been out on track, with Carlos Sainz the fastest of those to have set a time with a 1:33.767s.
More importantly though was that he’d chalked up 19 laps inside the opening hour, one more than Verstappen while Mercedes’ George Russell with 16 laps.
Shortly after the one-hour mark, a piece of bodywork was spotted out on track on the run through Turns 5-6-7, having broken free from Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas.
It was part of the floor on the German’s car, mechanics affecting repairs back in the garage.
Teams had a total of six dry compound tyres available – plus two sets of ‘prototype’ C2s produced from Pirelli’s facility in Turkey.
A range of different compounds were therefore employed which, when coupled to differing fuel loads and run programmes, made times impossible to decode.
However, strong and consistent running from Sainz left him atop of the timing screens for much of the session, a positive early sign for Ferrari.
That’s also the case for Red Bull with Verstappen running a similar number of laps while working through an aerodynamic programme for the Milton Keynes operation.
The Dutchman’s car was often coated in flo-vis paint as a result, with interest around the sidepods and rear wing.
Last year’s world champion went fastest in the final hour of half running in the morning session, logging a 1:32.959s, a time 0.294s faster than Sainz had managed.
Williams too enjoyed solid early running with Albon behind the wheel, the first driver to chalk up 50 laps for the morning inside three hours of running.
An early focus had been the airflow over the front wing, with the right front of the car painted a very on-brand shade of Gulf orange flo-vis.
By the end of the session, Drugovich had recovered from his early setback to manage 40 laps, six shy of Yuki Tsunoda for Scuderia AlphaTauri.
It was a largely uneventful session, with the Aston Martin stoppage the only incident of note.
Running in Bahrain continues this afternoon.
Results: F1 pre-season testing, Day 1 (morning)
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||71||1:32.959|
|4||24||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Sauber||67||1:33.723||0:00.764|
|7||34||Felipe Drugovich||Aston Martin||40||1:34.564||0:01.605|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||46||1:34.671||0:01.712|
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