Last Updated: 03/03/23 2:43pm
Sergio Perez topped the timesheets ahead of Fernando Alonso in first practice for the Bahrain GP as the Formula 1 2023 season began with surprise package Aston Martin as Red Bull’s closest challengers.
Perez, underlining Red Bull’s status as favourites to defend their titles, set the pace with a 1:32.758 on soft tyres – a time that was around a second slower than the quickest time of pre-season testing at Sakhir last week.
A lack of representative lap times was a theme for the session but Aston Martin, the only other expected frontrunner running on the quickest tyre, and new multi-title-winning signing Alonso, did prove their speed.
Alonso was just 0.438s off Perez, splitting the Red Bulls. Max Verstappen was surprisingly off the pace, another two tenths back in third.
Neither Ferrari nor Mercedes ran on the soft tyres, though Charles Leclerc did still place fifth – behind McLaren’s Lando Norris – while running the mediums.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, was last and had a huge spin in a car that struggled for balance.
Mercedes were also quiet in terms of headline times, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell only 10th and 11th and more than half a second off Leclerc on the same tyre and more than two seconds off Perez.
“I think it was really hard to read that session, actually,” said Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle in Bahrain.
“The cars all over the place in terms of times. The Aston looks pretty strong and Red Bull, of course, too.
“It was generally quite interesting but I don’t think there is a ‘wow, now we know'”.
Practice One did, though, see Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll return to the track after missing pre-season testing with a wrist injury.
Stroll, who had surgery last week, was kept in the garage for 20 minutes due to an ignition issue and finished sixth.
The mixture of practice times also made the midfield battle difficult to predict, with Norris finding much more speed than rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri on the soft tyres, while Alfa Romeo and Haas were evenly matched and Alpine slower than predicted.
Practice Two – in the much more representative, and faster – evening conditions in Bahrain, is live on Sky Sports F1 at 3pm after build-up at 2.45pm.
|1) Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1:32.758|
|2) Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||+0.438|
|3) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.617|
|4) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.487|
|5) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+1.499|
|6) Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1.540|
|7) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1.644|
|8) Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||+1.817|
|9) Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+1.931|
|10) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+2.159|
|11) George Russell||Mercedes||+2.208|
|12) Oscar Piastri||McLaren||+2,239|
|13) Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+2.257|
|14) Nico Hulkenberg||Haas||+2.285|
|15) Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+2.347|
|16) Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||+2.644|
|17) Pierre Gasly||Alpine||+2.697|
|18) Logan Sargeant||Williams||+2.991|
|19) Alex Albon||Williams||+3.260|
|20) Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+3.314|
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