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Max Verstappen tops first morning of pre-season testing

Published on 23 February 2023 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen was quickest on the first morning of the official 2023 Formula 1 pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit. The Dutchman, completing 71 laps, was three tenths quicker than Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Alex Albon completed the top three in his Williams.

On the first of the three test days that make up the only pre-season test of the year, a couple of rookies make their debut in the morning session. Oscar Piastri drives the new McLaren with Felipe Drugovich replacing Aston Martin regular Lance Stroll. The latter will miss the test due to injuries following a bike accident.

When the pitlane opens, Max is straight out of the box to show off the new RB19 on its public debut. Where other teams opt for giant aero racks to measure the aero flow on their new cars, Red Bull sent Max out with flowviz paint to gain useful information.

Aston Martin have the dubious honour of causing the first red flag of the season with Drugovich grinding to a halt on his installation lap. After a fifteen minute delay, the session is resumed.

Max continues to lap the Bahrain International Circuit clocking competitive lap times and trading fastest laps with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Throughout the session, Max is at the sharp end of the lap times, despite focussing on long runs as well.

In the final half an hour, Max turns up the pace and becomes the first driver to break into the 1:32s. He sets the quickest time of the session, doing so on the medium Pirellis. After completing 71 laps, three fewer than Albon and one less than Sainz, Max tops the first morning of pre-season testing.

Max is the only driver to test the whole day. All the other teams share the driving duties between two drivers. It means that after the lunch break, rookies Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) will get their first taste of 2023 spec machinery.