BAHRAIN: Max Verstappen set the pace on the opening day of F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain, but the impressive performance of Fernando Alonso in P2 caught everyone’s attention.
With limited on-track interruptions, Verstappen racked up 157 laps in his RB19, while Alonso provided close competition in the Aston Martin after overcoming floor issues earlier in the second session.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz set the pace for the first hour with a time of 1:33.767, but Verstappen soon took control with a time of 1:32.959, setting the fastest time of the day and completing 71 laps in the morning session.
Meanwhile, Aston Martin’s Felipe Drugovich suffered an electronic issue after just four corners but managed to return to the circuit later in the day.
Lando Norris waited patiently for his chance to hit the track in the MCL60, while Lewis Hamilton made moves in the Mercedes W14, entering the top three.
Williams rookie Logan Sargeant also impressed, pulling off a DRS-assisted pass on Hamilton down the pit straight.
But it was Alonso’s performance that stood out, with the two-time world champion setting a time of 1:32.837, just 0.029 seconds behind Verstappen’s benchmark time.
Despite the encouraging signs from Alonso and Aston Martin, it was Verstappen who ended day 1 of the F1 pre-season test on top, with Alonso, Sainz, Alex Albon, and Zhou Guanyu rounding out the top five.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner even advocated for the three testing days to become two, given the lack of interruptions on the opening day of testing.
While it’s only testing, the performances of Verstappen and Alonso will undoubtedly set the tone for the upcoming F1 season, with fans eagerly anticipating the prospect of more than two teams going head-to-head in their quest for the 2023 F1 titles.
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