Pre-season is finally here! It was a busy day of track action on the first day of testing in Bahrain, with Red Bull and Max Verstappen looking in ominous form…
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Main headlines: Aston Martin cause first red flag inside first 10 minutes then Alonso was briefly sidelined after two laps in afternoon session with floor damage; porpoising still an issue for some teams. Lando Norris sees running hindered as “precautionary repairs” take place on the front of his McLaren.
Day One timesheet:
1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:32.837s – 157 laps
2 Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, 1:32.866s – 60 laps
3 Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 1:33.253s – 72 laps
4 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:33.267s – 64 laps
5 Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:33.762s – 40 laps
6 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:33.508s – 83 laps
7 Alex Albon, Williams, 1:33.671s – 74 laps
8 Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, 1:33.723s – 67 laps
9 George Russell, Mercedes, 1:34.174s – 69 laps
10 Logan Sargeant, Williams, 1:34.324s – 75 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, 1:34.424s – 51 laps
12 Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, 1:34.558s – 71 laps
13 Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, 1:34.559s – 85 laps
14 Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin, 1:34.564s – 40 laps
15 Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 1:34.671s – 46 laps
16 Pierre Gasly, Alpine, 1:34.822s – 60 laps
17 Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 1:34.871s – 53 laps
18 Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 1:34.888s – 52 laps
19 Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:35.087s – 57 laps
Live updates (local time):
Session times (local time): 1000-1415, 1515-1930
1935: Encouraging days for most of the teams there. Reliability was generally good all round barring a bit of lost time for Lando Norris in the afternoon and Aston Martin overcoming an early issue in the morning, but 1,276 laps later, that’s a wrap for the first day of 2023 pre-season testing. Shall we do it all again on Friday and Saturday? Go on then.
1930: Chequered flag! A lot of laps and data gathered today in Bahrain, and with Max Verstappen going fastest and clocking a huge lap count, it’s hard to argue against that being a pretty perfect day for the reigning World Champion.
1925: Verstappen has now crossed the 150-lap mark for the day, getting towards almost three race distances around Bahrain for his day’s work. He’ll sleep well tonight, that’s for sure.
1920: Max Verstappen is going into the pits after each lap as Red Bull practice pit-stops during the VSC test, and what we can take away from it is they’re still pretty damn quick at changing tyres.
1916: The FIA are now conducting a Virtual Safety Car test as they test their own systems on track. Every base needs to be covered, after all.
1913: Lando Norris gets in on the act on having a go at a quicker lap, putting on fresh C3 tyres and getting himself into the top five on a 1:33.459.
1907: Another push lap from Alonso there, again on C3 tyres but a wide exit from the final corner costs him time, going to within a couple of tenths of his and Verstappen’s quickest efort. It looks like he and Aston are looking to get some good low-fuel running under their belts from the first day of running.
1900: Final part of Day 1 of pre-season testing now, and all in all, the teams have looked pretty reliable for the most part today – we would say ‘hitting the ground running’ but the lack of porpoising on show from most is also an encouraging sign.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) February 23, 2023
1855: More flow-vis paint out on Logan Sargeant’s car at Williams, as the team appear to be making aero work the key part of their afternoon. The mechanics also look absolutely fantastic in their new Gulf-clad race suits as they do pit-stop practice, too.
1850: Times are starting to tumble slightly elsewhere as drivers appear to begin to run on lower fuel in the final part of the day’s running.
1842: Now Charles Leclerc sets his fastest time of the day, but it’s only good enough for P4 for the day so far.
1840: Well, hello Fernando Alonso! He clocks the final fastest sector of anyone and he goes to within 0.029s of Verstappen at the top, on the same tyre compound. That’s pretty impressive stuff.
1835: And Lando Norris puts himself into the top 10 now, 1.260s off Max Verstappen’s pace but he’s very much making up for lost time now.
1831: Into the final hour and things have gone rather swimmingly for Red Bull so far, top of the times and a pile of laps under their belts.
1822: Just over an hour to go now, and Logan Sargeant has moved himself into the top 10 for the day after clocking his fastest lap so far.
1813: No further leaderboard changes of late, and Lando Norris comes back into the pit lane after a solid stint following his earlier issues with his wheel brows. He’ll still have plenty of work he’ll want to get one before the end of the day, but some good mileage nonetheless.
1803: Inside the final 90 minutes of the day now, and Logan Sargeant pulls a DRS-aided pass on Lewis Hamilton on the pit straight. That’d be a turn-up for the books if that happens in full flight during the season.
1755: As a little reminder, Max Verstappen is at the top of the lap time and individual lap count charts at the moment, with 121 to his name at this point and a 1:32.837 under his belt as a fastest time.
1747: Speaking of Bottas, his Alfa Romeo C43 looks a handful for him as we see an on-board lap with him, suffering a couple of snaps of oversteer on his way through. Elsewhere, Logan Sargeant goes P16 after a push lap.
1738: For all the talk about Valtteri Bottas’ helmet for testing, F1 dogs just might take off…
Our mentions just peaked for the day. 😍 https://t.co/Xri6cWiM7q
— Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake (@alfaromeof1) February 23, 2023
1729: Wild McLaren spotted! Lando Norris is out of the pit lane as work on his front wheels is complete, he’ll be looking to make up for lost time with two hours to go.
1727: The floodlights are beginning to take hold at Sakhir as evening falls, just over two hours to go as Logan Sargeant does some running with some flow-vis paint on his Williams, while Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc head back out on track.
1719: Max Verstappen sets a new fastest lap of the day on a 1:32.837, purple first and second sectors but despite running wide at Turns 4 and 14, he edges slightly further clear on the C3 tyre.
1716: McLaren say it is just a case of some “precautionary repairs” taking place for Lando Norris at the moment, so he will be hoping to get himself out on track soon.
1713: Alonso has popped himself inside the top six in his Aston Martin, while Hamilton has leapfrogged his way into the top three outright. Esteban Ocon has left the pit lane again for Alpine, too.
1708: Lando Norris is having to be patient as it stands, rooted inside the McLaren garage as his mechanics work on the front of his car with only a handful of laps on the board at the moment.
1700: You may have seen already, but at the top of the page there is a lovely discount offer on F1 TV Pro annual subscriptions this season so you get yourself perfectly set up for the long season ahead. Check it out!
1650: A century of laps on the board for Max Verstappen and top of the timesheet. So far, so good for the two-time World Champion.
1640: And right on cue…Alonso is back on track!
1638: Update from Aston: They are expecting Alonso to return to the track soon after that pit-stop mishap a little earlier.
1625: Of the afternoon’s newcomers, it’s still Leclerc leading, now ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Magnussen and Norris. Then De Vries, Sargeant, Ocon and Alonso.
1614: It is being speculated Aston Martin are having to fix the car’s floor which was broken during a pit-stop practice. Definitely not a good day for the Silverstone team.
1609: Alonso’s former team Alpine is also having a glitch with Ocon back in the garage as mechanics reinforce the mirror brackets.
1604: Could there be another problem at Aston Martin? Alonso did two laps before returning to the garage. He’s not even sitting in the car waiting to run.
1600: None of the afternoon runners have broken into the top ten yet, Magnussen the closest in P11 but still 1.3s away.
1554: All 19 of the drivers on today’s billing have done two laps or more, Bottas and Magnussen finally out on track. The only driver who won’t have tested this year’s car today is Sergio Perez, Red Bull opting to run just Verstappen.
1550: Ferrari’s aero rake game is strong this year!
Nice aero rakes on the Ferrari again pic.twitter.com/UIhLgpEpwE
— Sandels (@TuukkatheTiger) February 23, 2023
1541: Also Alonso, Norris and Hamilton. So now we’re just waiting for Magnussen and Bottas.
1537: Leclerc, Esteban Ocon and Williams rookie Logan Sargeant have joined the action and what a moment this must be for Sargeant, his first pre-season as a Formula 1 race driver.
1532: Verstappen has broken the silence as he heads out on track for lap number 72 for his solo day in the RB19. He’s joined by Nyck de Vries in a heavily flo-vis painted AlphaTauri.
1529: There’s a certain double World Champion decked out in his green race-suit standing in front of the car with his helmet on and waiting to get his chance to run.
1523: With quite a lot of driver changes this afternoon, there is plenty of adjustments going on in the 10 respective garages. Nobody out on track just yet.
1515: Welcome back to Bahrain for the afternoon session. It’s time to see the likes of Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton take to the track for the first time this season.
1415: And that’s it! The first session of the Formula 1 2023 season is in the books. As it was for the majority of 2022, Max Verstappen is at the top of the timesheets while it is Carlos Sainz behind him and the surprise sight of Alex Albon in P3. We have an hour’s break now before the afternoon session kicks off, join us then.
1405: Right, that’s the end of the running as the FIA will spend the final 15 minutes or so testing their procedures. We’ve had a yellow flag which was then moved up to a VSC.
1355: Although, as we all know, timings mean very little in testing, especially on the first day but interesting to note that both of the rookies to have been out on track are currently P10 and P9 in standings. Another driver having to get used to a new car, Gasly, is next in P8.
1345: Drugovich is quite a long way off the track with a snap back onto the circuit. A small mistake from the rookie there.
1335: Verstappen moves up to P1, outpacing Sainz in all but the third sector.
1325: After his problems earlier on, things seem to be going a little smoother for Felipe Drugovich in the Aston Martin.
1315: A lot of cars back in the garage at the moment with the former team-mates Gasly and Verstappen the only ones out on track.
1305: Sainz is back in the Ferrari garage, still leading the timesheets, while Verstappen is on his out lap.
1255: Pierre Gasly’s running has been compromised slightly due to a minor issue with the Alpine car. He is out of the cockpit and poring over some data in the garage.
1245: Only a couple of cars out on track at the moment, Sainz and Drugovich. The latter is trying to make up for some lost time earlier and is currently bottom of the lap charts.
1235: Apart from the early Aston Martin stoppage, which wasn’t for too long in the grand scheme of things, the session has gone by very smoothly. Not many struggling with any major teething issues. I’ve cursed it, haven’t I?
1225: Something on the Mercedes car is catching the eye. Exposed wiring on the steering wheel…
— Junaid #JB17 (@JunaidSamodien_) February 23, 2023
1215: Alert: Mick Schumacher sighting!
— tami. (@Vetteleclerc) February 23, 2023
1210: Russell has just popped himself up to P5 on the timesheet with a time that was two seconds quicker than his previous best.
1200: We’ve hit the two-hour mark of the first morning session and it’s absolutely flown by! All is calm and serene at the moment as the drivers crack on with their programmes. Not much in the way of movement on the timesheet.
1150: Interesting little snippet from a paddock interview with AlphaTauri tech director Jody Egginton, who believes the Red Bull sister team have made a step up in performance this year. They finished a rather dreary P9 last season so fingers crossed the improvement comes to life.
1137: Update from Aston Martin: “Felipe stopped on track due to an electronics issue that has now been resolved.”
1130: Inspectors Hamilton and Bottas reporting for duty…
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) February 23, 2023
1120: We have a new name at the top of the timesheet and it’s Alex Albon for Williams. End the season now!
1114: Just as I type, the Aston has reappeared. Hurrah!
1113: No word yet from Aston Martin on the reason behind their very early stoppage. They haven’t re-emerged from the garage just yet. Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri has locked up and gone slightly off course at Turn 10.
1104: It’s dropped a little quiet at the moment. Just three cars out on track: Sainz, Tsunoda and George Russell.
1101: If you are watching along at home or heaven forbid at work and don’t have a clue what tyre compounds are being run in Bahrain, Pirelli have posted this handy guide.
We're bringing ✨all✨ the compounds to #F1's Bahrain pre-season test 🇧🇭
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) February 22, 2023
1058: Carlos Sainz has now knocked Verstappen off top spot with a 1:33.767, over a second clear of the World Champion. Don’t get your hopes up too much, Ferrari fans…
1052: It’s an encouraging start for Max Verstappen and Red Bull as he sits pretty at the top of the timesheet. Wonder how many times we’ll be seeing that this season?!
1044: You may have seen over the course of the off season that we have launched a brand-new F1 channel with GFN called On Track GP and our first predictions video is out now! Scroll to the bottom of the page if you fancy giving it a watch.
1036: It’s our first look at Nico Hulkenberg as he returns to F1 (again!) and suffers a lock-up at Turn 1 on his first reconnaissance laps. No dramas though, he continues on his merry way.
1029: The Aston Martin is finally on the recovery truck and we’re back underway!
1022: Still waiting for the red flags to clear. Everyone stood around patiently waiting for the morning session to resume.
1013: Still red flag conditions here in Bahrain as we wait for Drugovich’s car to be recovered. Not a great start to pre-season testing for Aston Martin.
1008: Some early drama…our first red flag! Felipe Drugovich, deputising for Lance Stroll who is recovering from a cycling accident, has come to a stop at Turn 4.
1000: Green light! Russell is joined straight away by Zhou, Albon, Sainz, Tsunoda, Verstappen, Hulkenberg and Gasly. Let’s get cracking…
0958: It’s almost time for our first green light of the season! George Russell is first in the queue.
0939: Here’s the Red Bull RB19 heading to the grid for the earlier pre-season photo call.
📸 La RB19 de Red Bull qui n'avait jamais encore été montré dans sa finalité ! 👀
— Off Track (@OffTrack_FR) February 23, 2023
0934: For this morning’s line up we have Max Verstappen in action at Red Bull while Carlos Sainz will test for Ferrari, Mercedes have George Russell behind the wheel and Alpine will run Pierre Gasly. As for the rest, Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, Felipe Drugovich, Nico Hulkenberg, Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon will all be in action. Aside from Verstappen, the rest will have the car over to a team-mate for the afternoon session.
0934: So far this morning we’ve already seen Haas officially take the covers off the VF-23, they’d only done a livery launch so far, and we’ve had the traditional first photo of the season photo call on the grid with the Mercedes W14 spotted on its way down.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) February 23, 2023
0930: Good morning from the Bahrain International Circuit for the first day of pre-season testing. Damn it feels good to be typing that. Our first green light of the season will appear in 30 minutes’ time for the first four-hour session of the day until 1415 local time. An hour lunch break follows before the second session runs from 1515 to 1930.