Bahrain, FP1: Pérez quickest for Red Bull in first practice for season-opening Grand Prix 

Alonso 2nd, Verstappen 3rd


By Franck Drui

3 March 2023 - 13:37
Bahrain, FP1: Pérez quickest for Red (...)

Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez went quickest in first practice for the opening race of the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix, beating Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso by almost half a second. Defending champion Max Verstappen finished in third place in the other Red Bull car.

Pérez staked his claim to P1 early in the session, posting a time of 1:35.069 before Alonso bypassed that as Verstappen joined the fray with a third-place time almost four tenths shy of his team-mate’s.

Alonso held sway for the first 10 minutes of running before Pérez once again moved ahead with a lap of 1:34.343.

But as the session headed for its half way point, the Mexican driver bolted on a set of soft tyres and posted a lap of 1:32.758 to put some distance between himself and his rivals. Verstappen followed soon after, but the defending champion was only to get to a time just over six tenths off the pace set by Pérez.

McLaren’s Lando Norris then moved to third place on soft tyres, though the Briton was 1.4s down on Pérez’s benchmark, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc made his way to fourth place.

Both were demoted, though, when Alonso moved to soft tyres and he set a time of 1:33.196 to take P3 0.438s off Pérez.

With Leclerc fifth, sixth place went to Lance Stroll who was at the wheel of the Aston Martin AMR23 for the first time after suffering hand injuries in a pre-season bicycle accident. The Canadian worked his way into the session slowly but eventually made his way to 1:34.298 a tenth of a second ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.

Zhou Guanyu was eighth quickest for Alfa Romeo with team-mate Valtteri Bottas just behind.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top 10 order with team-mate George Russell in P11 though either attempted a soft tyre run in the session

New-season rookie Oscar Piastri was 12th for McLaren ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, while F1 returnee Nico Hülkenberg was 14th for Haas. Esteban Ocon took 15th place of Alpine ahead of full-season rookie Nyck de Vries of AlphaTauri and Pierre Gasly finished in P17 ahead of new Williams recruit Logan Sargeant, who beat team-mate Alex Albon. The timesheet was propped up by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

01 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:32.758 21
02 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:33.196 22
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:33.375 21
04 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:34.165 21
05 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:34.257 17
06 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:34.298 17
07 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:34.402 20
08 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:34.575 18
09 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:34.689 20
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:34.917 13
11 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:34.966 20
12 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:34.997 24
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:35.015 20
14 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:35.043 22
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:35.405 20
16 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:35.402 25
17 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:35.455 22
18 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes FW45 1:35.749 24
19 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:36.018 25
20 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:36.072 21

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