Bahrain Grand Prix – Sergio Perez put Red Bull on top as the 2023 World Championship season started with the first practice in Bahrain.
As the green light went on to start the first session of the 2023 season, William’s Alex Albon was the first to take to the track under the bright skies in Bahrain. It was Lando Norris though who opened the timesheets a few minutes later with the McLaren driver posting a 1:37.462.
(FP1) First Practice Results – 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix
There were a few cars with issues to be dealt with in the opening half of the session, Norris was in the garage getting his wing mirror looked at while Lance Stroll, who had just returned to the paddock after a bike injury had ruled him out of testing while he recovered from surgery to put screws in his right wrist, had only completed two laps and set a time. It was thought to be an ignition issue and the team hoped to get it fixed and the Canadian back on track before the end of the session.
Aston Martin did manage to get Stroll back on track quicker than expected though and the Canadian was circulating and getting a time on the board with twenty five minutes to go.
Sergio Perez held the top of the timesheets for the majority of the first half of the practice, the Red Bull driver initially with a 1:34.343 before shaving two seconds off to bring it down to a 1:32.758 with his teammate, reigning champion, Max Verstappen closest to him but still over six tenths of a second slower.
The weird F1 rulings showed themselves early this year with a decision on Lewis Hamilton’s nose stud being posted this morning. The FIA had outlawed the wearing of jewellery while driving but have handed the Mercedes driver an exemption for his nose ring given “ there are concerns about disfigurement with frequent attempts at removal of the device”. A cheerful thought to start the year.
With twenty minutes to go Carlos Sainz had a big moment when his Ferrari went spinning into the run off, flat spotting his tyres, after hitting a bump as he headed into T9. Earlier in the session the Ferrari’s rear wing was a subject of interest as their single pylon version of the wing assembly was wobbling quite a lot through the corners.
In the final ten minutes the Red Bulls were split at the top of the times when Fernando Alonso set a 1:32.196 to put his Aston Martin in P2. There weren’t any further changes at the top in the final few minutes so it ended with Perez as the only driver with a sub-93 second lap.
Norris finished in P4, 1.407 seconds off the top time while Charles Leclerc was the best of the Ferraris in P5, Sainz ended with the slowest time of the session. Despite his earlier troubles, Stroll put his Aston Martin into P6 by the end ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. The two Alfa Romeos slotted into P8 and P9 with Zhou Guanyu’s 1:34.575 seeing him end just over a tenth ahead of Valtteri Bottas. There were only a few hundredths between the two Mercedes but Hamilton’s time, a 1:34.917, saw him take the final spot in the top ten, over two seconds off Perez’s effort.