Bahrain FP1: Alonso splits the Bulls

Bahrain FP1: Alonso splits the Bulls

Bahrain FP1: Alonso splits the BullsFernando Alonso was second fastest at the end of FP1 for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, splitting the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

Keeping in mind that times from a hot FP1 will not be fully representative, but Alonso’s second fastest time in the session somehow showed that Aston Martin have made some progress with their 2023 car, the AMR23.

Red Bull also showed they have quite a strong package with the RB19, but it was Sergio Perez who was fastest of all and 0.438s faster than Alonso.

Max Verstappen was third fastest in the sister Red Bull, 0.617s slower than his teammate, noting that the top three set their times on the softest compound.

To put matter into perspective, neither Ferrari, nor Mercedes used the Soft compound in FP1, which probably flatter Alonso and Aston Martin who, regardless, seem to be genuinely good.

Buildup towards FP1

The 2023 Formula 1 season is officially underway, and heading towards the first practice session for Bahrain’s season opener, anticipation was in the air for various reasons, first of which being how much we missed our sport over the winter break.

As for the racing, the first race weekend should give some definitive answers about this season and the pecking order, and granted Red Bull seem to be favourites again, it would be good to know how big their advantage, and how far Ferrari – who looked decent in pre-season testing as well – would be.

What of Mercedes and their enigmatic W14? Not “bouncy” but not fast as well, and will they be troubled by Aston Martin who where looking good in pre-season testing… unless they were showboating.

McLaren seem to be in trouble, so it would good to know if they can bounce back, and how will their rookie Oscar Piastri fare?

Speaking of rookies, we have also Logan Sargeant at Williams and Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, while Nico Hulkenberg makes a comeback. How will all these perform?

Lance Stroll makes a comeback after his mysterious cycling accident before pre-season testing which he skipped, but make a recovery to ruin Felipe Drugovich’s first chance to make an F1 debut.

Let’s keep in mind that times from FP1 will not be too representative as the temperatures are higher and conditions are different from qualifying and racing times that take place in the afternoon under cooler conditions.

Finally, Pirelli’s tyre choices for this weekend.

Bahrain FP1 Session Highlights

As the session started, most of the drivers set out on the Medium tyres (C2) except for Logan Sargeant who bolted the Hards (C1) on his Williams, while Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz started on the Softs (C3).

Alpine are running their all-pink livery in Bahrain, the official colors of their Title sponsor BWT, which will be running for the opening rounds.

Under ten minutes into the session, Oscar Piastri registered the first “moment” of practice as his MCL60 snapped into an oversteer going into Turn 7, but he luckily caught it.

Soon after that, Logan Sargeant reported that he could smell something burning in his FW45, but went on to drive without any issues.

With twenty minute to go, Lance Stroll who returned after his cycling injury, had only one lap on the board without registering a time. From what we could see, there was a lot of work going on at the back of the Canadian’s AMR23 that was suffering from an ignition issue.

Stroll was back on track with 26 minutes to go from FP1.

Worth noting the most teams brought upgrades to their cars to the Bahrain season opener, which varied in number between one team and another.

Alpine for example brought ten upgrades, covering the nose, front wing, front suspension, front corner, floor body, engine cover, rear suspension, rear corner, beam wing, and finally the rear wing.

Ferrari for example brought upgrades to their front suspension, front wing, and coke/engine cover.

With twenty minutes to go, Lando Norris brought out a brief Yellow flag while on his flying lap, misjudging his braking entering into Turn 1, but survived it. He went on to set the third fastest time at that moment, running the Soft tyres.

Shortly after that, Carlos Sainz had a moment of his own as well losing the rear of his SF-23 braking into Turn 9, doing a 360 spin but not losing any carbon fiber.

How they finished

Sergio Perez seemed to be more happy with his RB19 than Max Verstappen was, and went on to clock a 1:32.758 in FP1, 0.438s faster than Fernando Alonso in second, and 0.617 fastest than Verstappen in third.

Lando Norris was third fastest in the McLaren, with a 1:34.165 which was set also on Soft tyres like the top three, and a whopping 1.407s away from the lead.

Charles Leclerc and Ferrari seem to have kept their powder dry, not running the Soft tyres and set their fastest time on Mediums, a 1:34.257, good enough for fifth fastest.

Lance Stroll did a decent job upon his return to go sixth fastest in the other Aston Martin with a 1:34.298 after racking up 17 laps in the session where he suffered from ignition problems.

Kevin Magnussen put his Haas seventh fastest with a 1:34.402, 1.644s down from the top with Zhou Guanyu eighth fastest for Alfa Romeo, 0.173s behind the Dane.

Valtteri Bottas was ninth fastest, 0.114s behind his teammate, while Lewis Hamilton rounded up the top ten, over two seconds off the pace.

Oscar Piastri was fastest of the rookies, 12th fastest, while Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant were 16th and 18th respectively.

FP1 Official Results