Bahrain GP 2023

MARCH 3, 2023

Practice 1 Report - Perez quickest in opening session

Sergio Perez
© Red Bull

By Peter Habicht

Sergio Perez topped the timing sheets in the first free practice of the 2023 season today in Bahrain with a time of 1m32.758s in his Red Bull-Honda, followed by the Aston Martin-Mercedes of Fernando Alonso with a time of 1m33.196s.

World champion Max Verstappen finished third quickest at 1m33.375s, followed by the McLaren-Mercedes of Lando Norris at 1m34.165s, and Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari at 1m34.257, 1.5 seconds behind the leader.

The session ran smoothly overall with most of the field out on track in the opening laps.

Running on medium tires, Charles Leclerc's Ferrari ended up fifth fastest at 1m34.257s, the car appearing unsettled with a flexing rear wing in a slightly different configuration to teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished 20th.

Early issues at Aston Martin kept Lance Stroll from setting an initial time due to an ignition issue. The Canadian, who is recovering from a broken wrist, joined the session half way through and set the sixth fastest time at 1m34.298s, and trailed his teammate Alonso by 0.923s.

The McLarens of Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Pastri each found the limit and abandoned corners on a dusty but evolving circuit. In the second half of the session, Carlos Sainz' Ferrari took a bump mid corner at turn 9, bottoming the right rear corner of the car and causing a dramatic spin which he quickly controlled to rejoin the circuit.

Kevin Magnussen took seventh for Haas with a 1m31.376s, followed by Guanyu Zhou and Valttieri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo-Ferarri’s in eighth and ninth, just under two seconds behind the leader, and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in the two Mercedes following in 10th and 11th places.

Both the Williams-Mercedes cars used the session to further tune their aerodynamic setups with sensors mounted to the rear of their cars, with American Logan Sargeant outpacing his teammate Alex Albon by 0.269s. Sargeant is the first full-time American driver to compete in Formula 1 since Scott Speed in 2006.

Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine and Williams opted to save their soft compounds Pirelli tires for later in the weekend and did not run them in the first session. Estimates suggest they are worth an additional second per lap. Fuel loading on the Aston Martin cars put them at a slight weight advantage as well.

Free practice 2 begins at 6pm local time.