Pérez quickest for Red Bull as pre-season testing draws to a close in Bahrain

Hamilton 2nd, Bottas 3rd


By Franck Drui

25 February 2023 - 17:36
Pérez quickest for Red Bull as (...)

Sergio Pérez set the fastest time of the three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain with the Mexican racer beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by more than three tenths of a second as Valtteri Botta took third spot for Alfa Romeo ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

As his defending champion team-mate Max Verstappen had done on the opening day of testing, Pérez spent the full day at the wheel of the RB19 and in hot temperatures the Red Bull driver, like many others, spent the morning session focusing on longer runs.

As the heat eased through the afternoon, however, drivers began to bolt on softer compound tyres as they explored the performance potential of their new cars with just over a week to go until the opening race of the season.

Hamilton took top spot in the afternoon with a lap of 1:30.781, with the seven-time champion using the softer C5 compound tyres to set a time that pushed him ahead of the morning’s quickest driver Charles Leclerc. Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz got to within two hundredths of his team-mate to sit third.

After spending the day on the C3 compound, Pérez then went a step softer and on the C4 tyres powered to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:30.616 on the slower C4 tyres. Hamilton improved but he still sat 0.048s behind the Red Bull.

And then, in the final hour, Pérez put clear water between himself and his rivals with a lap of 1:30.305 on C4s to boost his lead to 0.359s. That looked like being the final order but late in the session Bottas put in a good C5 lap of 1:30.82 to steal third from Leclerc, with Sainz in fifth.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finished a creditable sixth with a C4 time of 1:31.261, two tenths off Sainz and 0.956s off the pace set by Pérez. Tsunoda’s lap pushed Haas’ Kevin Magnussen out to seventh place ahead of Mercedes’ morning runner George Russell.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Drugovich took ninth and tenth places respectively as the Silverstone team enjoyed a positive end to their test phase. Lando Norris finished 11th for McLaren, though the Briton completed just 35 laps across the day, with his best time being set on C3 tyres.

Pierre Gasly was 13th for Alpine ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg finished 15th ahead of McLaren’s morning runner Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries propped up the timesheet.

01 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:30.305 133
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:30.664 65
03 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:30.827 131
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:31.024 67
05 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:31.036 76
06 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:31.261 79
07 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:31.381 95
08 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:31.442 83
09 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:31.450 80
10 Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:32.075 77
11 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:32.160 37
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:32.762 56
13 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:32.793 136
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:33.257 76
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:33.329 77
16 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:33.655 44
17 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:38.244 87

Formula 1 news