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Max opens Bahrain weekend third fastest

Published on 03 March 2023 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen, two-time world champion, finished the first free practice in the runup to the Bahrain Grand Prix, third fastest. Max’ team mate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez topped the board. On the 5,412 meter long Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Fernando Alonso snatched the second fastest time in his Aston Martin. Lando Norris’ McLaren and Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari rounded out the top five.

The new season will get underway with three rookies, Nyck de Vries will be running for AlphaTauri this year; Logan Sergeant is the first American again after a very long time. The third newcomer this year is Oscar Piastri, the second McLaren-driver.

After the Winter testing, which took place a week ago, Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing are seen as the favourites for both titles at the end of the long season, which comprises of 23 races. This weekend we will see if the predictions were correct or if someone has kept something up their sleeve.

When the lights at the end of the pitlane turn green, the new Formula 1-season finally gets underway. On the Bahrain International Circuit the weather is quite pleasant with an ambient 27 degrees temperature. The track temperature is some 42 degrees and is almost immediately crowded. Williams, Alfa Romeo and McLaren all start the practice with both of their drivers. For De Vries the first practice as a fully-fledged F1-driver gets underway as well. After a few minutes only Lance Stroll, both Mercedes and Max Verstappen are still inside.

It doesn’t take long for Max to head out, after just 4 minutes the world champion decides to also make to the track. He does this on a set of medium tyres. When he is about to start his first timed lap, Fernando Alonso is P1 and behind him in second place is Perez. Max slots in behind both gentlemen in third. The conditions aren’t easy as Piastri proves with a small moment he had at Turn seven. He is able to continue on without any issues.

Another rookie who is not having the best day of his life is Sargeant, he smells something burning in his Williams. Despite this he puts his car in P10 on a set of the hards. After fifteen minutes, George Russell, the last driver, also heads out on the asphalt.

After 25 minutes, Max is in the pits and is fifth on the board, well over a second behind team mate Perez who is first. Alonso is second, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. With still 33 minutes left on the clock, Max emerges on track on a set of the soft compound tyres. The same goes for Perez. The Mexican is in his RB19 way faster than Max, who slots in in second place. Max’ deficit is well over six tenths. Both gentlemen immediately head back into the pits. Meanwhile De Vries takes his AlphaTauri to the sixth fastest spot.

With still twenty minute on the clock, Carlos Sainz spins as he enters Turns nine and ten. Due to the massive run-off area the Spaniard is able to continue on, shaken but unscathed. With fifteen minutes left on the clock, both Red Bulls report for duty on track after having been inside for quite some time. Both are running on a set of soft scrubbed tyres. Both gents are however not topping the board. Alonso on the other hand does exactly that as he puts his Aston Martin in between both Red Bulls in second place.

In the closing stages, the times are not bettered anymore and with that the first free practice of the new season comes to an end.

Contest Bahrain GP: win a by Max signed scale 1:2 world champion 2022 helmet!

Results first free practice Bahrain:

1Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:32.758 21
2Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:33.196+0.438s22
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:33.375+0.617s20
4Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:34.165+1.407s21
5Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:34.257+1.499s17
6Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:34.298+1.540s17
7Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:34.402+1.644s20
8Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:34.575+1.817s18
9Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:34.689+1.931s20
10Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:34.917+2.159s13
11George RussellRUSMercedes1:34.966+2.208s20
12Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:34.997+2.239s24
13Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:35.015+2.257s20
14Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:35.043+2.285s22
15Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:35.105+2.347s20
16Nyck De VriesDEVAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:35.402+2.644s25
17Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:35.455+2.697s22
18Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:35.749+2.991s23
19Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:36.018+3.260s15
20Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:36.072+3.314s21