Aston Martin starts pre-season with a power failure

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Verstappen dominates the first session in Bahrain ahead of Sainz and Albon

Dutch driver Max Verstappen (Red Bull) was fastest in Thursday’s first session of the official pre-season test of the 2023 Formula 1 World Cup at the Bahrain International Circuit, ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Alex Albon ( Williams), in a group that did not include Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), who will run in the afternoon.

The two-time world champion started 2023 as he finished last year, at the top, with a time of 1:32.959, nearly three-tenths faster than the Madrid driver (1:33.253) and with Albon setting a thrilling 1:33.671 for Williams. The Briton was the most active with 74 laps completed, although the first three were over 70 laps. In a session that was more of a bench test, we could barely see all of the teams weapons for next Sunday.

Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) and George Russel (Mercedes), who gave few certainties and many doubts about the performance of the German team, closed the ‘Top 5’. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), Felipe Drugovich (Aston Martin), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Pierre Gasly (Alpine) and Oscar Piastri (McLaren) rounded out the top ten drivers taking to the track in the morning session.

The day started with Verstappen quickly dominating, setting a 1:37.7 ahead of Sainz himself (1:40.4), who had installed grilles with sensors for his sidepods to obtain aerodynamic data in those early morning corners. Although the most notable thing about this start was the red flag as Felipe Drugovich’s Aston Martin stopped on the first lap due to an electrical problem, while Fernando Alonso, who will race in the second session next Thursday, watched from the box.

Meanwhile this morning George Russell set the second fastest time yet with a still slow 1:38.6. With Pirelli’s soft C2 compound, Verstappen flew and clocked a 1:34.8 after 14 laps at the Bahrain circuit. Although it wasn’t long before Sainz snatched that first place from him in the first test session with a 1:33.7, which would later drop half a second to stay on top, ahead of a Dutchman who also dropped to 1:33.

Williams driver Alex Albon was one of the surprises of the morning session in Bahrain, setting the fastest time for more than one lap and was the alternative to Verstappen and Sainz this morning. Although, as traditionally, the search for time trial was not the main focus, as all teams, accompanied by paraffin, tested different packages and options in terms of aerodynamics for two minutes, even at constant speed, to collect data for a season that spanned over a week starts.

Halfway through the session, Sainz starred in one of the most curious images of the tests, when the lower part of his car’s nose, at the ‘tip’, dropped as he braked before the corner and returned to his original shape when he accelerated. A fact of little significance because that panel was too light without any structural function.

The Spaniard did very valuable work for Ferrari, completing more than 70 laps of Bahrain, surpassing the 57 laps that will be featured in next Sunday’s race. The man from Madrid, who led well over two-thirds of the session, was unable to finish on top as Verstappen was the first to drop below 1.33 in the last half hour and with the new C3 rubber, with a competitive 1:32.959.

With Alonso waiting in the box to start in the afternoon session and Lance Stroll absent due to a cycling accident, tester Drugovich was chosen by Aston Martin to drive in this first batch. He was the red ‘lantern’ with the worst time until, with less than 15 minutes to go and after a solid second half of the test, he was seventh, 1.6 seconds off the fastest time. He completed nearly 40 laps after experiencing a power steering problem right at the start.

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Source: La Verdad

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