Formula 1 – Verstappen finishes Bahrain test on top

Max Verstappen and Red Bull end the final day of pre-season testing on top.

As seen across the three days of testing, the afternoon session got off to a slow start, with no apparent urgency from the teams to get on track with just four hours of testing remaining. The end of the session proved to be frantic, as teams scrambled to run as much as possible before the season opener on March 20.

The first hour saw Valtteri Bottas out on track as soon as the track opened, completing a series of installation laps, joined by George Russell in the Mercedes and Mick Schumacher in the Haas. Other cars remained on jacks in the pits as the session got under way, with Alpine and Williams making major set-up changes before sending their drivers out on the track.

The virtual safety car provided some quick action, after part of Alex Albon’s Williams broke away from the car once the FW44 hit the circuit. A marshal cleared the wayward debris from the track and the session resumed.

McLaren sent Lando Norris onto the track 15 minutes into the session after finishing the morning session early. However, the brake problems remained, with Norris only managing seven more laps in the first hour. McLaren continued their strategy of slow, low races through the first two hours, gathering data at low speeds. Team principal Andreas Seidl confirmed in an interview during the test that the new brake lines were sent out overnight. did not fully resolve the issueindicating that the real solution to the problems would most likely arrive next week.

Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a positive afternoon in the Aston Martin, setting the fourth fastest time as the second hour progressed, moving up to third before dropping down the standings but remaining in the top ten. The team saw an improvement in Barcelona’s performance, taking a visible step forward. Vettel secured the action on track during the session, diving inside Alex Albon on the starting straight.

Red Bull dispatched reigning world champion Max Verstappen at the start of the second hour, having fitted the new updated sidepods to his car. The Dutchman initially set a competitive third-best time, 1.8 seconds slower than teammate Perez but on harder tyres.

Verstappen then started to show Red Bull’s hand, with his next lap on the medium C3 tyre, setting the fastest lap of the week so far with a time of 1:32.645, 0.460s quicker than Perez. The team then made changes to the configuration of the car, before sending it back.

Ferrari dispatched Charles Leclerc at the start of the second hour, with Leclerc taking second place, 0.420 seconds behind Verstappen as F1 entered its final 90 minutes of pre-season testing.

George Russell taking charge of Mercedes’ testing put on a set of soft tires shortly after Verstappen was quickest but only managed sixth, half a second behind Verstappen before returning to the pits.

Mick Schumacher then pulled out the second red flag spinning his Haas on cold tires on the final corner, but was able to bring his car back to the pits. The session remained red-flagged, with all cars pitting for a few minutes before resuming.

As darkness fell over Bahrain, fuel was stripped from the cars and the performance laps began, beginning to show the competitive order possible. Charles Leclerc was the first to unleash the speed of his Ferrari, posting a time of 1:32.415, 0.230s quicker than Verstappen in the C4, looking calm and the car handling well.

Mercedes trailed on C4 tires with George Russell, moving up to sixth initially, before moving up to third, 0.473 seconds behind Leclerc’s new best time. Russell’s next attempt was compromised by oversteer, before improving again by a tenth to 0.344s. The Mercedes suffered from porpoises throughout the lap, with the problem still unresolved for the Brackley team.

There were some unexpected names at the end of times as the performances progressed, as Mick Schumacher moved up to fifth in his first performance before dropping to eighth as the other teams performed their performance. His lap included two purple sectors, showing optimism for the American outfit ahead of the new season. Yuki Tsunoda then moved up to sixth place, despite a near miss with Lando Norris. Bottas’ Alfa Romeo then grabbed fourth place on the C3 tire before his car came to a halt, with the Finn unable to find any gear. This redeemed the third and final red flag of the day, concluding testing for the team.

When the session resumed for the last time, the teams rushed to the track to complete the final laps before the end of practice. Verstappen was setting up for a hot lap on the fastest C5 tire before spinning. He recovered by laying down the glove for others to follow, his final lap in 1:31.720, the fastest of the week. Ferrari finished the test 0.433s behind Red Bull, while Mercedes on the slower C4 tire finished 1.039s behind Verstappen’s pace.

As all the cars returned to the pits for the last time before the March 20 Grand Prix, Haas took an extra hour on the track to make up time lost due to problems getting their freight to the circuit earlier in the day. week. The team had a fruitful extra hour, with Mick Schumacher taking second place, 0.541 seconds off Max Verstappen’s time.

Afternoon session test times