Verstappen leads mostly incident-free Thursday test in Bahrain

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By Lenny Sundahl

Max Verstappen topped the timesheets on a relatively uneventful first day of Formula One testing in Bahrain, posting a lap of 1:32.837 in Thursday’s second session. He was the only driver to run both sessions, and also recorded the fastest lap in the early session at 1:32.959 as he completed 157 laps.

photo: Formula 1

Behind Verstappen, the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso was just 0.029 seconds behind; the team opened the session rather ignominiously, as Felipe Drugovich—in for the injured Lance Stroll this week—broke down with an electronics issue just a few corners into his first out lap, just nine minutes into the first session. This would be the only red flag of the day, and Drugovich would finish 14th with a time of 1:34.564, +1.727 off of Verstappen.

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were close together in third and fourth, 0.416 and 0.430 behind Verstappen, while Lando Norris came fifth fastest (+0.625) despite a lengthy delay to fix the brakes on his McLaren. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on hard tires and was sixth for Mercedes (+0.671), ahead of Alexander Albon’s Williams (+0.834), the only car to set a fastest time on soft tires. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu (+0.886), Mercedes’ George Russell (+1.337), and Williams rookie Logan Sargeant (+1.487) rounded out the top 10.

photo: Formula 1

Returning to Formula 1 full-time for the first time since 2019, Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg posted a time of 1:34.424, good for 11th fastest and 0.663 seconds ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen in 19th. Just 0.006 seconds separated 12th through 14th, with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in 12th (1:34.558) 0.001 ahead of Alpha Tauri rookie Nyck De Vries and Drugovich. His teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, was in 15th (+1.834 from Verstappen), with Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly (+1.985) and Esteban Ocon (+2.034), McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri (+2.051), and Magnussen rounding out the order.

The only driver not to run was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who will handle their testing duties for the late session on Friday and all day Saturday. Zhou and Sargeant will run the whole day for Alfa Romeo and Williams, respectively, while Aston Martin’s lineup for the rest of the week is unconfirmed and the rest of the teams will have both drivers in the car tomorrow.