BAHRAIN: Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing set the fastest lap time in the first practise session of the 2023 F1 season as the teams returned to the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.
The Mexican driver clocked in at 1 minute, 32.758 seconds, enough to put him at the top of the timesheets ahead of Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin in second place.
Perez’s teammate, the two-time champion, Max Verstappen, came in third overall, behind his teammate Perez and Alonso.
The rest of the top ten consisted of Lando Norris in fourth for McLaren, Charles Leclerc in fifth for Ferrari, Lance Stroll in sixth for Aston Martin, Kevin Magnussen in seventh for Haas, and Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas in eighth and ninth, respectively, for Alfa Romeo.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes came in at tenth, with teammate George Russell following him in eleventh place.
Rookie Oscar Piastri for McLaren finished in twelfth place on soft tyres, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri in thirteenth place.
Nico Hulkenberg of Haas, returning to F1 after three seasons, finished in fourteenth place, while Esteban Ocon of Alpine came in at fifteenth on medium tyres. Nyck de Vries of AlphaTauri rounded out the top sixteen.
The second practise session on Friday evening saw Fernando Alonso set the pace ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Alonso clocked the fastest lap at 1:30.907s on soft tyres, finishing 0.169s ahead of Verstappen and 0.171s ahead of Perez.
While the fuel loads and engine modes the teams are using at this stage are unknown, Alonso’s benchmark was slower than Perez’s lap time of 1 minute, 30.305 seconds posted during last week’s test session.
Charles Leclerc of Ferrari finished in fourth place, with Nico Hulkenberg of Haas in fifth and Lance Stroll of Aston Martin in sixth.
The third practise session on Saturday will offer the teams their last chance to prepare for qualifying, which will set the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Also Read: Sergio Perez Warns Red Bull and Max Verstappen: No Support, No Teamwork