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Bahrain Testing Day 3: Ferrari pre-season testing champions

Bahrain Testing Day 3: Ferrari pre-season testing champions

Bahrain Testing Day 3: Ferrari pre-season testing champions

Charles Leclerc set the fastest time on the final day of the 2024 Formula 1 pre-season testing after an encouraging test for Ferrari around the Sakhir Circuit.

George Russell was second fastest in the Mercedes, while Zhou Guanyu was third fastest, as Max Verstappen posted the fourth fastest time.

The final day from testing in Bahrain was far from smooth as another loose drain cover interrupted the running in the morning session.

And while the reliability of the Sakhir circuit was questionable, the new for 2024 F1 cars were bullet proof, credit to how much the sport and the technology has advanced, as the cars ran almost trouble free for three days, with some niggles here and there.

No doubt, the third iteration of the ground effect F1 cars are now generating too much downforce that may be the cause behind the failures on track, something we also saw in Las Vegas in 2023 when a drain cover destroyed Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and weekend.

But it is something the FIA need to look into ahead of the season to avoid similar failure as the 2023 F1 campaign progresses.

Anyone hazard a guess on the pecking order?

And so pre-season testing in Bahrain is over and while it is not smart to make conclusive opinions as to who is hot and who is not, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Red Bull remain the team to beat in 2024 following their dominant 2023 campaign.

But after three days of 2024 F1 cars pounding around the Sakhir Circuit, one can take an educated guess about the 2024 pecking order.

Behind the Bulls, Ferrari seem to be the second fastest car in terms of pure pace, and while the team have been making some positive noise about sorting the tyre deg issues that plagued them in 2023, the extent of their improvement remains to be seen.

McLaren are a mystery somehow, as they didn’t show their pace, and while their test was solid, despite Lando Norris’ clutch issue on the AM of he final day – he managed only 20 laps – they are definitely in a better place compared to how they started 2023, and given the form they showed towards the end of last year, it would be unsmart to rule them out of the top three.

Mercedes, with their radically redesigned W15 seemed to retain their race-pace strength from 2023, and while the drivers trumpeted that the car is an improvement, it doesn’t seem that they would be troubling the top three, at least at the start of the season.

Giving the eight-time Constructors’ Champions the benefit of the doubt, they just need some time to get to know the W15 better, given it is a major departure from their 2022 and 2023 philosophies.

As for Aston Martin, the stars of the 2023 pre-season testing, it is safe to say that they couldn’t replicate that performance, and while they seem good, it is difficult to really decide whether they are better of worse than Mercedes.

Behind the top five, the RBs seem to be reaping the results of getting more components from Red Bull, while Alpine are still a question mark with their all-new A524.

Williams seems to hold an advantage over Sauber but it is very close, and the order may change in the first few races.

Haas are apparently in trouble with one week to go before the first race of the season.

Leclerc was fastest, but the SF-24 is not the fastest car

While Leclerc posted the fastest time of the final day of testing in Bahrain, a 1:30.322, which is slower than what Sainz managed on Day 2, and also slower than the 2023 pole time set by Verstappen.

Also worth noting, that Leclerc used the C5 compound to set his time, something Verstappen did not do, the Red Bull team seemingly happy to keep their powder dry for now.

Leclerc clocked 74 laps in the afternoon session while Sainz managed 71 in the AM and was ninth fastest overall.

Second fastest, and 0.046s off the pace of Leclerc was Russell in the Mercedes, the Briton using the C4 tyre on his best lap and posting his time a while after the Monegasque.

Russell drove 67 laps after taking over from Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon, the latter putting in 49 laps and finishing 12th overall in the timing sheets.

Zhou, in what was clearly a glory run in the Sauber was third fastest, over three tenths off the pace and on C4 rubber as well. He drove 85 laps, with teammate Valtteri Bottas adding 28 in the morning session after hitting some car trouble. The Finn was 18th fastest overall.

Triple F1 Champion, Verstappen was fourth fastest an the end of Day 3 in Bahrain, 0.433s slower than Leclerc but using C3 rubber in the process. The Dutchman added 66 laps to teammate, Sergio Perez’s 53 in the AM, the Mexican tenth fastest in the final classification.

The newly rebranded Visa Cash App RB F1 Team, of the RBs concluded a decent test with Yuki Tsunoda at the wheel of the VCARB 01, the Japanese driver finishing Day 3 fifth fastest with 53 laps, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo was 19th fastest with 70 laps.

Alex Albon, the sole Williams driver on Friday was sixth fastest and managed an impressive 121 laps in the FW46. His lap time was over sixth tenths off the pace.

McLaren after their low-key test were seventh fastest with Oscar Piastri, the Aussie driving 91 laps making up for the team’s lack of running in the morning with Norris suffering from clutch issues, only managing 20 laps.

Piastri was 0.708s off the pace while Norris was 14th fastest overall, the Woking squad apparently keeping their cards close to their chest.

Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest, 0.837s slower than the best time, and put 75 laps on the board with teammate Lance Stroll down in 13th with 46 laps to his name.

Nico Hulkenberg was 11th fastest with teammate Kevin Magnussen 16th, the pair accumulating 169 laps for Haas.

Pierre Gasly was 15th for Alpine with Esteban Ocon 17th fastest, the Frenchmen managing 102 laps between them.

Bahrain Testing Day 3 Classification