Max Verstappen opened pre-season testing with the fastest time on the first part of the first day in Bahrain after the new Red Bull RB19 was shown to the public for the first time, with Carlos Sainz second fastest in the Ferrari SF-23.

Verstappen set a best time of 1:32.959, a second faster than the best time on the first day of last year’s test at the same track, which was held after three days of testing in Barcelona, with Sainz three tenths slower for Ferrari despite leading until half an hour before the end.

Pirelli brought as many as seven dry tyre compounds to the test, including the new hardest C0 compound and a prototype C3 compound made at a back-up factory in Turkey, and this year the front tyres have a new, stronger construction to eliminate understeer.

2023 F1 pre season testing Bahrain Pirelli tyre choices Photo Pirelli Edited by MAXF1net
2023 F1 pre season testing Bahrain Pirelli tyre choices Photo Pirelli Edited by MAXF1net

Only significant reliability problem came after Felipe Drugovich, who is replacing Lance Stroll in pre-season testing for Aston Martin, stopped on track with an electrical problem, causing the only red flag, just nine minutes into testing.

The green flag came after 21 minutes, and the test continued without further interruptions until the lunch break. Drugovich returned to the track about an hour and a half after he stopped on the track and managed to drive 40 laps.

Albon completed the most laps (74) on his way to the third-fastest time ahead of Zhou in the Alfa Romeo and Russell in the Mercedes, and Hulkenberg opened his return to Haas with the sixth-fastest time.

Drugovich finished seventh ahead of Tsunoda, Gasly and Piastri, and the test resumes at 13:00 and runs until 17:30 p.m (CET). In the second part of the day, everyone except Red Bull will change drivers, while Verstappen will continue to drive for the world champions.

Day 1 morning results

1  Max Verstappen
Red Bull RB19 / Honda RBPT H001 
2  Carlos Sainz Jr.
Ferrari SF-23 / Ferrari 066/10 
3  Alexander Albon
Williams FW45 / Mercedes F1 M14 E Performance 
4  Zhou Guanyu
Alfa Romeo C43 / Ferrari 066/10 
5  George Russell
Mercedes F1 W14 E Performance / Mercedes F1 M14 E Performance 
6  Nico Hülkenberg
Haas VF-23 / Ferrari 066/10 
7  Felipe Drugovich
Aston Martin AMR23 / Mercedes F1 M14 E Performance 
8  Yuki Tsunoda
AlphaTauri AT04 / Honda RBPT H001 
9  Pierre Gasly
Alpine A523 / Renault E-Tech RE23 
10  Oscar Piastri
McLaren MCL60 / Mercedes F1 M14 E Performance 
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