F1 teams completed their first eight-hour pre-season test session of three today in Bahrain. Here are five of the biggest talking points from both the morning and afternoon sessions.
1) Ferrari’s dimple
Early on in the morning as Ferrari were doing some basic running with Carlos Sainz in the car. The front nose cone started to dimple under the downforce that comes from braking. While this is not ideal or an intended effect from the Maranello based team, it certainly was one of the oddest moments of the day as it has now led to Sky’s Ted Kravitz to nickname the car “the dimple”.
2. Max Verstappen and Red Bull walking away with it at the top of the times
For all the morning session and most of the afternoon, Max topped the times with a 1:32.837 on the medium tire. This once again shows that Red Bull and their chief designer Adrian Newey have continued their dominance into 2023 for now. However, it is yet to be seen if their closest rivals in Mercedes and Ferrari have been showing their true pace.
3) McLaren having a troublesome Afternoon
After a pretty easy morning session with rookie Oscar Piastri getting 52 laps in and some solid yet unremarkable times posted on the board. The afternoon session was rather problematic for Lando Norris as he missed over an hour of the session due to an overly flexing wheel brow. This should be fixed with some new parts shipped over from Woking for the first race but is again concerning for the technical team headed up by James Key
While this was temporarily fixed and Lando did get some running in, an hour of missed running is huge when Lando himself will only get one and a half days in the car before next week’s first race of the year.
4) Williams being one of the surprises of the day
After their last few years at the back of the grid, most expect a small step from Williams this year but not one as big as they have made in terms of climbing up the grid. For example, American rookie Logan Sergeant secured 10th for the team with a 1:34.324 on the mediums. While this is impressive for the team it is not as impressive as Logan’s teammate Alex Albon ending the day P7 with a 1:33.671 however this is caveated with it being the only soft tyre time of the day.
5) Aston Martin in the ascendency
After a disrupted morning with development driver Felipe Drugovich struggling to get many laps with the car suffering electrical issues, Fernando’s Alonso stint in the afternoon was a much more impressive. Often when Alonso moves teams in the belief they are on the up the team he is joining often takes a step back. However, this seems to be different this time with his new seat at Aston Martin as he on the medium tire finished in second just 0.29 behind Verstappen. Hope this is the same in race conditions as most F1 fans want to see Alonso back on the top of the podium and fighting for wins this season.
My thoughts on the first day
While day one wasn’t as interesting as last year’s day one with this year the cars being an evolution rather than a revolution. There is plenty to take from it into days two and three. I’m personally shocked and excited by the pace from Aston Martin and Alonso on the medium tire and have now high expectations for the rest of test and the upcoming season. I’m hoping this year is a much tighter championship with what looks to be a new front runner in the Aston Martin car. There are however some unnerving signs from McLaren with the issues they have had today.
Times at the end of Day one
- Verstappen, Red Bull, 1m32.837s – 157 laps
- Alonso, Aston Martin, 1m32.866s – 60 laps
- Sainz, Ferrari, 1m33.253s – 72 laps
- Leclerc, Ferrari, 1m33.257s – 61 laps
- Norris, McLaren, 1m33.762s – 40 laps
- Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m33.508s – 81 laps
- Albon, Williams, 1m33.671s – 74 laps
- Zhou, Alfa Romeo, 1m33.723s – 67 laps
- Russell, Mercedes, 1m34.174s – 69 laps
- Sargeant, Williams, 1m34.324s – 75 laps
- Hulkenberg, Haas, 1m34.424s – 51 laps
- Bottas, Alfa Romeo, 1m34.558s – 71 laps
- De Vries, AlphaTauri, 1m34.559s – 83 laps
- Drugovich, Aston Martin, 1m34.564s – 40 laps
- Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 1m34.671s – 46 laps
- Gasly, Alpine, 1m34.822s – 60 laps
- Ocon, Alpine, 1m34.871s – 52 laps
- Piastri, McLaren, 1m34.888s – 52 laps
- Magnussen, Haas, 1m35.087s – 55 laps
What are your thoughts on today’s first test tweet us @Sports_Byte