In Bahrain, on the Sakhir track, the first day of pre-season testing ended. This year, the teams have the only opportunity to check the cars before the start of the season.
According to the regulations of the test, any stoppage of the car on the track causes the appearance not of yellow flags, but immediately red. The car is evacuated, the session time is not stopped.
Almost without incident, but the Ferrari “got” into the nose
The first red flag of the first day appeared 10 minutes after the start of the session. Formula 2 champion Aston Martin test driver Felipe Drugovic stopped on track, replacing Lance Stroll, who was injured in an accident during cycling training. The reason for the stoppage was a failure in the electrical system. It took around 20 minutes to evacuate the car from him, and the rest of the session was uneventful, except for a few drivers going off the track and braking hard.
The pilots mainly worked on hard trains. During the morning session, the surprise was a dent in the nose of the Ferrari, which appeared every time the car accelerated on the straights. This “technical solution” surprised many, especially the Ferrari engineers.
Later, at the technical headquarters of the Maranello team, they confirmed that the dent appeared due to a design error, but at the end of the tests the fairing will be finished and the car will return to its normal appearance.
Soon all the drivers switched to long series of circles, simulating race mode. Max Verstappen set the fastest time in the morning: 1.32.959 on C3 tyres. The current world champion drove 71 laps. Carlos Sainz was second with a time of 1:33.253 (C3, 72 laps), while Williams’ Alex Albon was third with a time of 1:33.671 (C4, 74 laps).
Alonso damaged the background, but that did not stop him from shining
In the afternoon, all the teams except Red Bull changed drivers. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso appeared on the track. And only Max Verstappen kept working all day. Because of his longest series of circles – 157 (849 km), and the best result of the day – 1,32,837. For comparison, the best result from the first day of the session in Bahrain last year was Pierre Gasly: 1.33.902. And also for comparison, the distance of the Bahrain Grand Prix is 57 laps. That is to say, on account of Verstappen almost three complete races per day.
The second time was with Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has done 60 laps with a best result of 1.32.866. Also, on the best lap he made a small mistake and lost time. Alonso also lost an hour and a half in the pits while his AMR23 was being repaired after a failed pit stop practice. The mechanics damaged the underside of the car.
Third and fourth times of the day for the Ferrari drivers – Carlos Sainz, who set it in the morning, and Charles Leclerc (1.33.267).
Lando Norris was next with a score of 1:33.462. Technical problems arose in his McLaren, and the mechanics had to play with the car for a long time. The car had cracks in the deflectors of the front wheels, I had to resort to adhesive tape. As a result, the Briton drove only 40 laps.
Lewis Hamilton drove 83 laps and posted the sixth time of the day, 1.33.508, his teammate George Russell the ninth time. However, Toto Wolff has something to rejoice about: there are no longer problems with the construction of the car, which prevented Mercedes so much last year.
Testing ended under artificial lighting after sunset. By this time, the track had already begun to cool down, and speeds had increased. Therefore, the protocol has better time for those who worked in the afternoon.
With two more days of preseason testing ahead, it is more than premature to talk about the balance of power.