2024 F1 Bahrain Testing Day 1: Verstappen continues to impress in RB20 with fastest lap and most laps completed

Photo credit: Red Bull Racing
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At 15:00 sharp the lights at the end of the pitlane turned green, but the action remained confined to the pitboxes for the first few minutes. Carlos Sainz had a little look, but quickly pitted again. Pierre Gasly followed as one of the afternoon drivers, while Lando Norris had to wait for his McLaren to be re-assembled again after what looks like a floor change.

After quite the quiet hour, in which Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo put just a handful of laps, Zhou Guanyu and Norris head out, leaving only Logan Sargeant and Lance Stroll to hit the track for today. The latter hits the track to add to Fernando Alonso’s tally of 77 laps in the morning, whereas Sargeant is still preparing to get into the Williams, which looks to be fixed after the fuel pump issues of the morning.

Timewise not much has changed with Max Verstappen still on top of the, not so important, timing sheets. Sargeant heads out in the meantime, making sure that all 18 drivers that drive today have some mileage under their belt.

After Verstappen starts a new stint with some fresh flow-viz on the rear wing there are some changes on the timing sheet, with both Norris and Sainz improving on Charles Leclerc’s time. And while the drivers keep racking up the laps, the sun begins to set, and with little over two hours to go Norris goes to the top of the table with a lap of 1:32:484.

It didn’t take too long for Verstappen to take back the top spot though, and with quite the margin he puts the Red Bull RB20 first, prompting a smile on the face of his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase. A little while later he also breaks the 100 laps mark, which is a sharp contrast to Williams’ tally of 56 at that moment, not helped by a small off-track excursion by Sargeant.

All cars on track at the moment are clearly in long-run territory at the moment, with the times being way off the pace and a significant amount of laps being ramped up by everyone. George Russell and Verstappen have a little bit of racing going on between them, but the former lets the reigning world champion go, as both have a programme to complete.

With about half an hour to go it is Verstappen once again who improves his best time, steering about a second clear of Norris in a 1:31:344 on the C3-tyre. On the tail end of the pitlane it is Williams who are again sidelined with a drivetrain issue, keeping Sargeant just at 21 laps in total.

Stroll, currently at P5, has a small lock-up going into turn 10, but is able to continue after a small detour. Norris follows suit shortly after, but he can keep his McLaren MCL38 within the white lines.

A few moments later Stroll’s Aston Martin sheds a little bit of bodywork, which is hit by the following Haas of Hülkenberg, but the debris is not enough to prompt a red flag, with just a little over 15 minutes to go.

Without any proper glory runs the remainder of the session stays quite calm, and when the chequered flag drops it is still Max Verstappen on top of the sheets in both the timing and lap count department.

Final standings and lap count for day one of testing

P1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 1:31.344, 142 laps

P2 Lando Norris, McLaren – 1:32.484, 72 laps

P3 Carlos Sainz, Ferrari – 1:32.584, 69 laps

P4 Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 – 1:32.599, 52 laps

P5 Pierre Gasly, Alpine – 1:32.805, 61 laps

P6 Lance Stroll, 1:33.007, 54 laps

P7 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 1:33.247, 64 laps

P8 Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin – 1:33.385, 77 laps

P9 Oscar Piastri, McLaren – 1:33.658, 57 laps

P10 Zhou Guanyu, Sauber – 1:33.871, 63 laps

P11 Logan Sargeant, Williams – 1:33.882, 21 laps

P12 George Russell, Mercedes – 1:34.109, 122 laps

P13 Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 – 1:34.136, 64 laps

P14 Valtteri Bottas,Sauber – 1:34.431, 68 laps

P15 Alexander Albon, Williams – 1:34.587, 40 laps

P16 Esteban Ocon, Alpine – 1:34.677, 60 laps

P17 Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 1:35.692, 66 laps

P18 Nico Hülkenberg, Haas – 1:35.906, 82 laps