Max Verstappen Leads the Way on Day One of 2023 F1 Pre-Season Testing in Bahrain

Max Verstappen got the 2023 Formula 1 pre-season off to a flying start on Thursday with the fastest lap during testing in Bahrain. The reigning world champion lapped the Bahrain International Circuit in 1m30.674s to lead the way for Red Bull, with Carlos Sainz second for Ferrari and Fernando Alonso third for Aston Martin.

Verstappen, who goes into the new season seeking a third successive title, was the only driver to feature in both sessions and completed a remarkable 157 laps during the day.

Charles Leclerc, who finished second to Verstappen last year, slotted fourth ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton was sixth for Mercedes. 4

The seven-time world champion completed an impressive 83 laps, while team-mate George Russell earlier managed a solid 69 laps of running, which left him ninth at the end of the day.

Checo and Max in the garage

Mercedes appeared unable to match Verstappen’s pace but were at least encouraged by the apparent absence of the bouncing issues that plagued their disappointing 2022 campaign.

Alex Albon was seventh for Williams, but the apparent success of a team many expect to be at the back of the field this season offers a reminder that testing timesheets must be viewed with caution, given the potential for teams to run vastly different setups.

Albon’s new team-mate Logan Sargeant finished the day highest of F1’s three 2023 rookies, with Nyck de Vries 13th for AlphaTauri and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri 18th. Formula 2 champions Felipe Drugovich, who was called in at short notice to replace the injured Lance Stroll, also delivered a solid display as he overcame an early breakdown, which led to the only red flag of the day, to complete 40 laps and finish 14th.

It was a joyous first day for Red Bull as Verstappen was pleased with the performance of his new car. “It was a good day,”

Verstappen Said.

“We had a lot of laps and some good information, so I’m happy with that. We got some positive signs from the car and that’s always nice.” 

The teams will have two more days of testing before the action gets underway in Bahrain on March 5. It’s been a long off-season for all involved, so seeing the cars back on track and the championship battle beginning is exciting. It’s sure to be an intriguing campaign with many familiar faces in different places – and the promise of a thrilling season ahead.

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