- Sergio Perez starts the 2023 F1 season with a bang, setting the fastest time in Bahrain Grand Prix practice 1.
- Fernando Alonso rises to second place, showing his consistency and competitiveness for the new season.
- Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton round out the top performers in Bahrain Grand Prix practice 1 and 2.
Red Bull’s Mexican driver, Sergio “Checo” Perez, set the fastest time in the first practice of the Bahrain Grand Prix after clocking 1m 32.758s, beating Spain’s Fernando Alonso and his teammate and current two-time champion Max Verstappen. In this way, he kicked off the 2023 Formula 1 championship season.
After testing the new RB19 with soft tires for 21 laps, the driver from Guadalajara was the fastest in the practice session at the first circuit of the new season. Behind him was Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso, who was 0.438 seconds behind the first place.
Checo’s teammate was relegated to third place, finishing 0.617 seconds off the pace set by his teammate. Outside the “podium,” Lando Norris finished fourth overall for McLaren. At the same time, Ferrari was represented by Charles Leclerc’s car, the fastest driver with medium compounds in P5, 1.5 seconds behind the leader.
Last year, the Mexican drive was left outside the podium in Bahrain because of engine issues.
The sixth position was in the hands of Canadian Lance Stroll, with a time of 1:34.298, who a few days ago was in doubt for the start of the “Gran Circo” after injuring his wrist during a cycling accident during the preseason. Aston Martin had a good practice 1, as its two drivers finished among the 6 fastest on the grid.
The top 10 was completed with the times of Dane Kevin Magnussen (Haas) after finishing seventh, 1.6 seconds behind Sergio Perez. Following him came the two Alfa Romeo athletes, China’s Zhou Guanyu and Finland’s Valtteri Bottas, eighth and ninth. The three aforementioned started on the circuit with soft tires.
In tenth position came the seven-time champion and motorsport legend, Lewis Hamilton, 2.1 seconds (1:34.917) behind the best time, although he was the one who did the fewest laps in the first practice, as he only tested for 13 laps. Only half a tenth behind the British driver was his Mercedes teammate, George Russell (1:34.966).
Among the things that also caught the attention was the scare generated by the Spaniard Carlos Sainz when with 21 minutes to go, he spun at high speed in turn nine after noticing something strange in the right rear of the flat bottom. Fortunately, he managed to keep control of the car and was able to head to the pit box. In the end, he finished with the lowest time (1:36.072).
Fernando Alonso dominated in the second practice of the day
Already during the second practice of the day, the new Aston Martin driver showed his consistency and readiness to challenge anyone who gets in front of him. After finishing the second-best time in free practice 1, Alonso improved his performance and overtook the two “Red Bulls” with a time of 1:30.907, beating Max (1:31.076) by only one-tenth of a second.
As for the Mexican driver, he had a minimal difference in performance from the Dutchman, and only two-hundredths separated them (1:31.078), making it clear how competitive the Austrian team would be. In any case, the three drivers dominated the first day of the Grand Circus.
The activity will continue tomorrow with practice 3 at 6:30 hrs (EST) and then the first Qualy at 10:00 hrs (EST) to define the starting positions for Sunday’s race.