Formula 1 preseason testing underway
Sahil, Bahrain –
F1 champion Max Verstappen picks up where he left off last season by setting the fastest time in the first session of pre-season testing on Thursday.
Verstappen lapped the Bahrain International Circuit nearly 0.3 seconds faster than Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
“We got enough mileage and good feedback,” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner.
Alex Albon was third fastest as Williams appeared to pick up the pace from last season, while Mercedes’ George Russell was fifth fastest behind Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.
The session barely started when Felipe Dolgovic stopped on his first run for Aston Martin with what team principal Mike Clack called an “electrical fault”. The session was red flagged and Dragovic’s car was taken to the track under cover to prevent other teams from taking notes on its design. He was able to get back on track and was seventh.
Reigning Formula 2 champion Dragovic has been replaced by regular Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll after Canadian Lance Stroll injured his wrist while cycling as part of his fitness training. The season starts next week with the Bahrain Grand Prix at the same track. “For precautionary reasons, we decided it would be better to wait a bit (for Stroll’s recovery) and prepare for next week,” Clack said.
There are few major rule changes for 2023 and pre-season testing is just three days with one car per team. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen argued that while the rule was meant to cut costs, it favored larger teams that could do more sophisticated analysis off the track. Our small team doesn’t have the same tools they have,” he said.
Six days of testing followed last season’s major changes, including the return of ‘ground effect’ aerodynamics that caused many cars to suffer from uncontrollable bounces and vibrations at high speeds. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the early signs from Thursday’s testing weren’t too bad, with his team one of the most affected last year.
Barring early Aston Martin problems, most of the new car looked reliable on Thursday.The afternoon session saw Lewis Hamilton replace Russell for Mercedes and Charles Leclerc replace Sainz for Ferrari. replaced. American driver Logan Sargent drove the Williams.