2024 F1 Bahrain Testing Day 1: Verstappen starts off strong to lead morning session as Williams hits reliability troubles

Photo Credits: Williams Racing
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Reigning three-time world champion Max Verstappen has started his 2024 campaign from where he left off in 2023, at the top of the timesheets for the first official session of pre-season testing in Bahrain.  Williams was the only team to suffer from reliability issues, with Alex Albon’s running being cut short by over 20 minutes due to an apparent power unit issue.

The first half of the first morning of official running proved to be a very calm affair, with no reliability troubles or even driving mistakes or off-track moments from the drivers, as they settled in with their new machines and got some good mileage on the board – with the exception of McLaren, who had completed just nine laps after one-and-a-half hours of running, compared to low-20s for the likes of Verstappen and Russell.

Esteban Ocon lost control of his Alpine on the exit of turn 4, with a huge snap of oversteer sending him momentarily into the gravel trap, but he managed to recover control quickly and rejoin the circuit without any further issues or damage to his A524.

Around the halfway mark, Charles Leclerc set about in a more performance-focused run using the C3 tyres in his new Ferrari SF-24 – but struggled with the balance in the twisty turns 6 and 7 after initially setting the fastest first sector split, and had a big lock up down in turn eight which ultimately ruined his lap. It wouldn’t be the last time the Monegasque struggled to slow down his Ferrari, as he continued to suffer with a seemingly stiff suspension causing him to underrotate his tyres more often.

George Russell, one of two drivers to do the whole of day one, spent a lot of the morning in the garage, but Mercedes dismissed it as “usual testing changes” that held the Briton in the pits for quite so long – he had completed only 19 laps with just over an hour left of the session.

Kevin Magnussen was another driver that spent most of the morning session in the garage, as his Haas team fixed a problem related to the fuel system.

With just over 20 minutes of the session remaining, Alex Albon’s Williams grounded to a halt down the main straight, with what seems to be a power unit software glitch, pending official confirmation from the team. The marshals managed to push Albon’s car to a safe spot and the session could run as planned without an interruption by a red flag.

Fernando Alonso was the driver to complete the most laps in the morning session, logging an impressive 77 laps in his AMR24, followed by Valtteri Bottas, who completed the second most laps at 66 in his Sauber.

There were some flashes of drivers eager to race already, with some battles taking place at the closing stages of the session.

The final lap count and lap times as the first morning of action came to a close was as follows:

P1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 1:32.548, 66 laps

P2 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 1:33.247, 64 laps

P3 Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin – 1:33.385, 77 laps

P4 Oscar Piastri, McLaren – 1:33.658, 57 laps

P5 Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 – 1:34.136, 64 laps

P6 George Russell, Mercedes – 1:34.230, 48 laps

P7 Valtteri Bottas,Sauber – 1:34.431, 68 laps

P8 Alexander Albon, Williams – 1:34.587, 40 laps

P9 Esteban Ocon, Alpine – 1:34.677, 60 laps

P10 Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 1:35.692, 66 laps