F1 Testing: Verstappen fastest on difficult day one in Bahrain

Max Verstappen Red Bull Bahrain Test

Max Verstappen and Red Bull made a promising start to Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain by setting the fastest time on a challenging day one.

The 23-year-old completed a mighty 139 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit as he acclimatised himself to the new RB16B, setting a best lap time of 1.30.674.

A sandstorm disrupted the start of the afternoon session, with only Esteban Ocon, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda taking to the track in the worst of the conditions. However, as the conditions improved the times began to come down compared to those set during the morning session.

McLaren driver Lando Norris was second fastest with a 1.30.889, another positive sign for the Woking team after Daniel Ricciardo led the morning session. Ricciardo’s time of 1.32.302 was the seventh best of the day.

Ocon, the only driver other than Verstappen to break that 100 lap mark, set the third best time of day one with a fastest lap of 1.31.146. Like the Dutchman, the Alpine driver spent the whole day in the car, forcing his new teammate Fernando Alonso to wait until tomorrow for his first track time of the new season.

Aston Martin suffered a delay to their afternoon session because of a “small electrical issue”, with Lance Stroll missing out on the first 90 minutes of running as a result. However, the Canadian was still able to set the fourth best time of the day for the newly rebranded team.

Carlos Sainz ended the day fifth for Ferrari, while Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was sixth.

AlphaTauri also had a positive day completing more than 100 laps in total, with both Pierre Gasly and Tsunoda ending the day inside the top 10.

However, the same cannot be said for Mercedes. The reigning world champions suffered a transmission issue this morning, which led to them replacing their gear box and Valtteri Bottas managing just six laps. In the afternoon, Hamilton did complete 42 laps, but was consistently struggling for grip and went wide on numerous occasions.

Day two of pre-season testing gets underway at 10 am local time tomorrow (7 am UK time).

See our morning session report here.