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Bahrain F1 Testing: Verstappen and Red Bull way ahead

max verstappen f1 testing bahrain

Okay, chill out! It’s only the first morning of three days of 2024 Formula 1 preseason F1 testing at Bahrain International Circuit but all signs are that the Red Bull RB20 in Max Verstappen’s hands is a formidable piece of kit.

Rd Bull might’ve rolled out a slight evolution of the almost all-conquering RB19 and still blitzed their rivals this year such was the gap they had to the field last year. This year Adrian Newey and his design team tipped their hat to Mercedes and their abortive ‘zero-sidepod’ package that doomed them in 2022 and half of 2023.

Perhaps inspired and even impressed with what Mercedes tried, Newey appears to have shown them how it should really be done, as the RB20 penned by his team was seven-tenths of a second faster than anyone else on Wednesday morning in Bahrain.

Verstappen did 65 laps during the four hours of the first running of the new 2024 F1 cars. The RB20 looked planted as the triple F1 World Champion sampled the car that could add a fourth title to his CV.

Today, just over an hour and a half into the morning session, Verstappen started laying down markers, going fastest and staying there. An hour later, despite a slight wobble on his best lap of that stanza he went even quicker with the morning benchmark time:1:32.548.

Charles Leclerc was second fastest, suggesting a good start for the Ferrari SF24. Ditto the Aston Martin AMR24 which was a couple of tenths shy in third place.

The McLaren MCL38 with Lando Norris on duty was fourth fastest, albeit over a second shy of Verstappen’s top time. Nevertheless like Aston Martin, quicker than their engine supplier Mercedes.

Georg Russell ended the morning sixth on the timing screens, half a second slower than Norris. The team was seen working on the front end of the Mercedes W15 late in the session but without any sense of urgency.

Tellingly, as the first F1 testing session came to an end for the lunch break, Verstappen cheekily passed Leclerc, both on hot laps as if taunting “Catch me if you can!” and Charles possibly having flashes of chasing the Red Bull all year.

Whatever the case after the first morning of F1 testing, sandbagging, powder dry etc, the first gut feeling is that the Red Bull RB 20 has again set the benchmark with Verstappen obliging and the others are in pursuit. Same old story.

Bahrain F1 Testing, Day 1 Morning Session Top Times

2024 Bahrain F1 testing lap times morning