Pre-season Day 1 Morning Report: Verstappen tops session, Aston Martin with early struggle

Pre-season Day 1 Morning Report: Verstappen tops session, Aston Martin with early struggle

Hi there! Formula 1 is officially back with pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. We're taking a look at the morning session. Please note a separate article for the afternoon session will be posted, together with a general analysis of the day later on.

The drivers

These are the drivers that participated in the morning session.

Team Driver
Alfa Romeo F1 Team Zhou Guanyu
Aston Martin F1 Team Felipe Drugovich
BWT Alpine F1 Team Pierre Gasly
McLaren F1 Team Oscar Piastri
Mercedes F1 Team George Russell
Monegram Haas F1 Team Nico Hulkenberg
Oracle Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen
Scuderia AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda
Scuderia Ferrari Carlos Sainz
Williams Racing Alexander Albon

The leaderboard

Max Verstappen (71 laps) topped the morning session on day 1 with his Red Bull car and a time of 1:32.959s using the medium compound. Behind was Ferrari's Carlos Sainz (72 laps), in the same compound, by a gap of 0.294s.

The Red Bull seemed faster than the Ferrari through sectors 1 and 2 in Bahrain, though Sainz was marginally faster than Verstappen through the last sector.

Have in mind, though, that you should take the performances with a grain of salt. For instance, last year's Verstappen laptime in qualifying around Bahrain was 1:30.681s. Earlier, his fastest 2022 pre-season laptime around the same circuit had been 1:31.720s.

Alexander Albon (74 laps) finished the morning session in third place with a time of 1:33.671s, a gap of 0.418s to Sainz. The Williams used the soft compound tire.

The youngsters

Felipe Drugovich and Oscar Piastri made their appearances in the morning session, the latter starting his first season as a full-time F1 driver with McLaren.

Drugovich caused an early red flag, just 10 minutes into the session. The Brazilian-Italian driver pulled over at turn 4, stopping the car and climbing out. No smoke was evident. The car was then recovered and Aston Martin got to work with their screens down at the box. He was able to continue later on and completed 40 laps, placing P7 with a gap of 1.605s in the medium compound to the session leader.

Piastri had a good first running with his new MCL60 for the season, completing 52 laps for McLaren around Bahrain. The Australian finished P10, with 1.929s to Verstappen.

The takeaways

Here are some short takeaways from this morning. Remember that a more in-depth analysis article will be released following the afternoon session.

  • All eyes (unintentionally) on Ferrari: Fans were surprised to see a "dimple" form on the Ferrari's nose at high speeds, returning to its normal shape under braking. A later comment from the team addressed the matter, stating that it was "not intentional."
  • Alexander Albon completed the most laps: 74, followed by Carlos Sainz with 72 and Max Verstappen with 71.
  • Felipe Drugovich completed the least laps: 40, though as we saw the Aston Martin driver faced technical issues early on. Tsunoda followed with 46.
  • "I haven't seen the cars bouncing as aggressively as last year, which is a result of the changes this year - the raised floor edges," Sam Collins, F1's technical expert, said in the broadcast.

We'll be back with more following the afternoon session. If you want more information about pre-season, click here.

Written by Luciano Calamante.