‘Relaxed’ Max Verstappen fastest on day one of F1 testing with Lewis Hamilton only sixth quickest


Max Verstappen topped the timesheets on day 1 of testing (Photo: Getty)

Max Verstappen and Red Bull picked up where they left off by topping the timesheets on day one of Formula One pre-season testing.

The reigning champions got off to the perfect start on Thursday, finishing first in both the morning and afternoon sessions with no one able to beat Verstappen’s time of 1:32.837 around the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain.

While every other team ran a different driver for each session, Red Bull unusually sent Verstappen out for both, with teammate Sergio Perez set to drive for the first time on Friday afternoon.

Fernando Alonso was surprisingly second quickest, with his best time just 0.029 seconds off the Dutchman as he made his Aston Martin debut, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. was four-tenths off the pace in third.

Sir Lewis Hamilton finished the day in sixth place with Mercedes teammate George Russell in ninth, while Lando Norris was the best-placed British driver in fifth even after losing track time after McLaren carried out ‘precautionary repairs’ to his car.

Red Bull also completed the most laps on Thursday, getting 157 under their belt with McLaren racking up the least with just 92 between Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri.

Their were few incidents of note on day one of testing, with the red flag brought out only once when the Aston Martin of Felipe Drugovich, standing in for the injured Lance Stroll, broke down on his first lap.

Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day One

Fernando Alonso was a shock second in his Aston Martin (Photo: Getty)

‘He’s relaxed out of the car but his motivation and drive from the first lap today was pretty clear,’ Red Bull boss Christian Horner said of Verstappen.

‘He’s looking forward to going racing again. He’s already into the detail, which is usually quite a positive sign. Plenty of mileage and some good feedback.

‘He was saying there’s a big bump at the end of the straight, but I think that’s affecting all the drivers and all the cars.

Lewis Hamilton was sixth in his Mercedes (Photo: Getty)

‘So I think there are no fundamental flaws with the car, I think it’s now getting to know the car and we’ll only see next weekend just how competitive we are.’

One of the big issues that plagued cars last year was the bouncing that proved a strain on drivers’ well-being and teams’ performance, especially Mercedes but thankfully for them it seems they have fixed that fault.

‘George was generally happy with the car. It seems to be balanced in the right way,’ Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said.

‘There’s no bouncing, which is good news, apart from the big bump at the end of the straight.

‘[It’s] a good starting point – we’re gathering a lot of data because it’s important to correlate, obviously after last year, and trying different things – so a productive first morning.’

Testing runs until Saturday with the first race of the season in Bahrain next Sunday.

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