Max Verstappen commands first day of F1 2024 pre-season testing

Max Verstappen continued where he left off last year by dominating the first day of track action in F1 2024.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One.-, EMail:
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir,…

Max Verstappen produced an ominous display of pace to take command of the opening day of F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain.

The reigning world champion, looking to win his fourth consecutive drivers’ title this year, finished comfortably clear of the rest of the pack, a full second ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

While lap times in testing should always be treated with caution given the many variables and unknowns at play, Verstappen nevertheless laid down an impressive marker in his revamped Red Bull.

The RB20 attracted plenty of attention as it finally broke cover in Bahrain after Red Bull launched a drastic evolution of their dominant 2023 challenger.

Verstappen didn’t look completely at one with his RB20 but appeared to dial out some early handling issues as the day progressed, setting his benchmark pace on the C3 compound in the final hour of running when conditions were at their best.

Carlos Sainz, entering his final F1 season with Ferrari, was third-quickest, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who caught the eye for the newly-rebranded RB squad.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 sends sparks flying. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One. -
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 sends sparks flying. Formula 1…

Pierre Gasly was fifth for Alpine, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and morning runners Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Oscar Piastri (McLaren). Zhou Guanyu completed the top-10 in his Sauber.

There were no red flags but the most dramatic moment of the day belonged to Logan Sargeant when the Williams driver suffered a huge spin at Turn 9.

The American then encountered a suspected driveshaft issue which sidelined him for the rest of the afternoon. It proved to be a tricky first day for Williams, with Alex Albon stopping due to a fuel pump problem late in the morning. 

George Russell was 12th-fastest in his heavily-revised Mercedes W15, nearly three seconds down on Verstappen’s headline-grabbing pace.

His Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, were the only two drivers not in action on the first day of the test.

Both will get behind the wheel of the respective new cars for a full day of running on Thursday as Verstappen and Russell sit out. 

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