Perez closes test days in Bahrain as fastest
Published on 25 February 2023 by Heidi De Love
Sergio Pérez has finished the very last part of the three-day winter test in Bahrain as fastest. It was another productive session for the Oracle Red Bull Racing team, which so far seems to be off to a steady start. The Mexican put 133 laps to his name. He set the fastest time on the C4 tyre with 1:30.305. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas clocked the second and third times this session, which was relatively quiet with no unplanned red flags.
The lights go green for this afternoon session at 13h15 CET and lasts till 17h30. Before lunch time the Mexican drove 69 laps and clocked the third time. Max Verstappen did not come into action today: he was behind the wheel the whole of Thursday and Friday afternoon. Incidentally, Max's compatriot, Nyck de Vries, is also missing during this session. The AlphaTauri driver has passed the steering wheel to teammate Yuki Tsunoda this afternoon.
Pérez starts the afternoon on a C3 tyre, which is the medium tyre at the moment but will be the soft tyre during the first Grand Prix weekend. The long runs in the RB19 are looking strong and aside from a tiny error in turn 10 everything runs smoothly for the Mexican. Also Aston Martin is looking strong again. There is some tinkering with the AMR23 of Fernando Alonso but he can still get enough action. Hamilton on the other hand seems to have problems. The Brit is wrestling with the balance of his new Mercedes car. A recurring problem during these test days.
With more than two hours to go Pérez is the first to go over the 100-lap mark today. Also Alexander Albon hits this number next. By now the top five of the day consists of Charles Leclerc (1:31.024), Carlos Sainz (+0.012), George Russel (+0.418), Alonso (+0.426) and Pérez (+0.690). All of them set these times on the C4 tyre, apart from Pérez who set his time with the C3 tyre.
One of the lesser big moments of this session goes to Esteban Ocon. He stalls during breaking in the first turn which causes him to shoot straight and loses his lap. Things don’t run smooth for McLaren: Lando Norris does not see a lot of action and in the end only drives 37 laps.
When the sun sets it not only makes for beautiful pictures but also for conditions similar to qualifying in a week. Time for a few qualifying runs. It also gets busier on the track. Hamilton seems to recover and sets the third fastest time. Also Pérez reports on the asphalt with the C4 tyre for a quick lap but is hampered by Sainz. Attempt two is good for a jump from sixth to fourth time despite a lap that did not go flawlessly. Not much later Hamilton sets the first time on a C5 tyre and is then overtaken by Pérez on a C4. With a little less than one hour to go the Mexican sharpens this fastest time to 1:30.305. Valtteri Bottas moves to the third fastest time moments later.
During the last half hour there are no more improvements. With that Pérez closes the last session of the test days as fastest. After Alexander Albon he also clocks the most kilometres with 133 laps. Albon drives three laps more. With that the test days in Bahrain come to an end. In just over a week the lights will go out on the same circuit, and we will see which way the wind blows.