Formula 1: the first tests taken in the “desert storm”

The first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain was disrupted by a big sandstorm that swept through the Sakhir circuit in the afternoon. Verstappen (Red Bull) was the fastest and most assiduous ahead of Norris (McLaren) and Ocon (Alpine).

En migrating directly to Bahrain, which will host the first Grand Prix of the season on March 28, the Formula 1 teams were all delighted at the idea of ​​avoiding the sometimes snowy weather in Barcelona, ​​for its 3 days of testing before -season. Well, while a beautiful sun flooded the Catalan circuit under a temperature of 22ºC, the Bahrain circuit was drowned during the afternoon of Friday by a real “desert storm” which had the particular effect of covering the track. a thick layer of sand, enough to ruin any hope of having a good idea of ​​the behavior of the tires, in particular.

Gearbox change at Mercedes

The morning was especially marked by the long wait endured by Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes garage, the time for his mechanics to change gearbox after his installation lap, so that the Finn was only entitled to 6 laps. barely before the lunch break. In the afternoon, it was Lewis Hamilton who had his first laps at the wheel of the W12. But if the seven-time world champion had the opportunity to cover 42 laps, he only signed the 10th fastest time, some of which were punctuated by some deviations from the trajectory, more than 2 seconds from the reference time.

Verstappen in front of Norris and Ocon

This was done by Max Verstappen (in 1.30.674, 3 seconds slower than in last year’s practice), driving a Red Bull which also proved to be the most assiduous on the track, with 139 laps on the clock of the Dutchman, who beat Lando Norris (McLaren, 46 laps, at 0.215) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine, 129 laps, at 0.472), the only drivers to complete the track in the same second.

For the rest, everyone has had their share of small annoyances: unidentified mechanical breakdown for Leclerc shortly before lunch; gearbox change for Mick Schumacher who made his first laps at the wheel of the Haas before entrusting it to Nikita Mazepin, another rookie with Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri); electrical problems at Aston Martin; etc.

Continuation and end this weekend

In short, a first day of testing rich in various events, large and small, and above all the promise of two new very intense days since Sunday evening, the pre-season testing will already come to an end, less than two weeks from the start. first Grand Prix of the season.

Testing times (day 1): 1. Max Verstappen (NED / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 30.674 (139 laps); 2. Lando Norris (GBR / McLaren-Mercedes) 1: 30.889 (46 laps); 3. Esteban Ocon (FRA / Alpine-Renault) 1: 31.146 (129 laps); 4. Lance Stroll (CAN / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 31.782 (46 laps); 5. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP / Ferrari) 1: 31.919 (57 laps); 6. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA / Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) 1: 31.945 (68 laps); 7. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / McLaren-Mercedes) 1: 32.203 (45 laps); 8. Pierre Gasly (FRA / Alpha Tauri-Honda) 1: 32.231 (74 laps); 9. Yuki Tsunoda (JPN / Alpha Tauri-Honda) 1: 32.727 (37 laps); 10. Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes) 1: 32.912 (42 laps); 11. Charles Leclerc (MON / Ferrari) 1: 33.242 (59 laps); 12. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN / Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) 1: 33.320 (63 laps); 13. Sebastian Vettel (GER / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 33.742 (51 laps); 14. Roy Nissany (reserve driver) (ISR / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 34.789 (83 laps); 15. Nikita Mazepin (RUS / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 34.798 (70 laps); 16. Mick Schumacher (GER / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 36.127 (15 laps); 17. Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) 1: 36.850 (6 laps).

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