F1 Testing 2024: Charles Leclerc rounds off testing on top with season opener next

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc in F1 2024 testing.

Charles Leclerc topped the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain for Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc topped the final day of F1 2024 testing in Bahrain, with the Ferrari driver edging clear of the Mercedes of George Russell, whose last-ditch lap put him just behind come the end of the day.

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Charles Leclerc tops Day 3 of F1 testing as pre-season draws to a close

An early stoppage following a second loose drain cover being dislodged in as many days, after Sergio Perez ran over one on the run down to Turn 11, meant that the planned lunch break was scrapped for the day.

This left a straight run through to 7pm local time and, while Carlos Sainz topped the timesheets halfway through the day, there would be a mass switchover throughout the grid as all but Williams would give their drivers half a day’s running each on Friday.

With a driver swap at Red Bull, it didn’t take long before Max Verstappen quickly put himself at the top of the leaderboard on his early laps around Bahrain, with a 1:31.058 setting the early pace in the afternoon, before quickly lowering that to a 1:30.763.

All 10 teams were looking to make the most of the remaining time available as the afternoon ticked on, with the evening set to allow driving conditions that would be condusive to faster lap times if the drivers wanted to go for it.

The question of ‘glory runs’ on low fuel and fresh tyres would be the natural question for the drivers later in the day, to see if anyone would want to lay down a marker to their rivals and show their hand before next weekend’s season opener.

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Charles Leclerc bolted on a set of C5 tyres for Ferrari and went fastest himself, but with the majority of the evening to run there were lots of laps to be completed yet.

It wasn’t until the final 20 minutes until others started to try and challenge Leclerc’s 1:30.322, with George Russell going to within 0.046s of the Ferrari driver on a set of C4 tyres.

Zhou Guanyu went third quickest before a Virtual Safety Car was deployed in the final 15 minutes, with the red flag soon following as the FIA tested their processes, the Stake F1 driver trying an apparent qualifying simulation on his last lap.

Verstappen rounded off fourth fastest, with Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon rounding out the top six in the timesheets – but the real show of each team’s speed will come next weekend.

That rounds off pre-season testing from Bahrain, and Formula 1 will return to the same circuit in a matter of a few days for the first round of the season.

F1 Testing 2024: Day 3 leaderboard

1 Charles LECLERC Ferrari 1:30.322 74 laps
2 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.046 67 laps
3 Guanyu ZHOU Kick Sauber +0.325 85 laps
4 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.433 66 laps
5 Yuki TSUNODA RB +0.453 53 laps
6 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.662 121 laps
7 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.708 91 laps
8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.837 75 laps
9 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.925 71 laps
10 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +1.161 53 laps
11 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +1.364 89 laps
12 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +1.677 49 laps
13 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.716 46 laps
14 Lando NORRIS McLaren +1.786 20 laps
15 Pierre GASLY Alpine +1.827 47 laps
16 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +2.731 80 laps
17 Esteban OCON Alpine +2.757 55 laps
18 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber +3.206 28 laps
19 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +6.693 70 laps

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