Verstappen heads Alonso on Day 1 of F1 testing
By Mat Coch
Friday 24th February, 2023 - 3:39am
Max Verstappen has logged 157 laps as he headed Fernando Alonso at the end of the opening day of F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain.
The Dutchman logged a 1:32.837s in the afternoon session, just over a tenth quicker than he’d gone in the morning.
While some way off the time that claimed pole position for last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, it compared favourably to the opening day of pre-season testing in 2022.
Back then, the best time was set by Pierre Gasly at 1:33.902s, leaving Verstappen 1.1s faster even allowing for the changes to the diffuser and floor edge this year.
Alonso managed his best late in proceedings, coming within half a tenth of Verstappen, while Charles Leclerc was third fastest of the evening runners.
Leclerc was fourth fastest for the day, however, though he managed a nearly identical time to Carlos Sainz who was at the wheel of the Ferrari SF-23 earlier on.
It was a delayed start to the session for Valtteri Bottas, who’d climbed aboard the Alfa Romeo Sauber occupied by Zhou Guanyu in the morning.
The floor was off the car as the afternoon running began, delaying the Finn’s entry.
Once on track, there was a problem with the front wing which the team resolved before sending Bottas back out on track.
Alfa Romeo Sauber wasn’t the only team managing gremlins, with Alpine having to attend to a loose mirror for Pierre Gasly.
The Anglo-French operation opted against showing its hand too much on the opening day of running, with both Gasly and Esteban Ocon earlier failing to feature near the top of the timesheets.
A damaged wheel brow delayed Lando Norris, the McLaren driver managing just five laps in two hours during the session before ending the day with 40 laps to his name.
That followed on from the morning’s running which saw Oscar Piastri log just 52 laps for a total of 92 for the team.
Meanwhile, Aston Martin had floor issues that interrupted Fernando Alonso’s running.
It proved a stunted day of running for the Silverstone squad after Felipe Drugovich suffered electrical gremlins saw him stop on track inside the opening 15 minutes this morning.
Alonso seemed unperturbed and duly logged the second fastest time of the day in the last 30 minutes at 1:32.866s.
That effort left him 0.029s slower than Verstappen, who’d moved the needle by just over a tenth of a second from the morning’s session.
He was the only driver to have been out in both sessions, recording significant mileage for Red Bull in the process.
More than that, however, the RB19 looked stable where other cars suffered instability – lockups were commonplace but seemingly not for Verstappen.
A late yellow flag in Track Sector 10 became a Virtual Safety Car with less than 15 minutes remaining which lasted for five minutes.
Once that was withdrawn a flurry of activity promptly followed with eight of the 10 cars in the session on track.
Nobody improved on their earlier times with attention firmly on high fuel running leaving the order therefore unchanged at the chequered flag.
With 157 laps to his name and the fastest time of the day, Red Bull and Max Verstappen look in a good place ahead of the second day of testing, which kicks off at 10:00 local time on Friday.
Results: F1 pre-season testing, Day 1 (combined)
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||157||1:32.837|
|2||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||60||1:32.866||0:00.029|
|8||24||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Sauber||67||1:33.723||0:00.886|
|12||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Sauber||71||1:34.558||0:01.721|
|13||21||Nyck de Vries||Scuderia AlphaTauri||85||1:34.559||0:01.722|
|14||34||Felipe Drugovich||Aston Martin||40||1:34.564||0:01.727|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||46||1:34.671||0:01.834|
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