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Formula 1

All you need to know about 2024 F1 testing day one

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen dominated the opening day of 2024 pre-season testing in Bahrain for his Red Bull team.

Verstappen - who was also quickest on the opening day of testing last year, albeit by a considerably smaller margin - was well clear both at the lunchbreak and at the end of the day's running.

As one of just two drivers running for a full day - instead of a mid-day changeover, with all 10 teams running just one car - he also logged 143 laps in the slimmer-sidepod, split-inlet RB20.

After leading the morning session by seven tenths of a second over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, Verstappen briefly ceded first place to McLaren's Lando Norris in the more favourable afternoon conditions.

But 'briefly' was the operative word - shortly after, on the same yellow-walled C3 compound that Norris had set his time on (and that Verstappen had used to top the morning), Verstappen went eight tenths quicker.

The laptime prompted a carefree smile from his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, and Verstappen recorded a couple of more laps good enough for first place shortly after.

He then went out on C3 tyres again in the final half-hour to lower the benchmark further, ending up on a 1m31.344s - a second-and-a-half improvement on his best time from last year's test opener.

Norris, who took over from sophomore team-mate Oscar Piastri at midday, settled for second place, over a second adrift and exactly a tenth up on Ferrari's Carlos Sainz - who had taken over from Leclerc.

The rebranded ex-Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri RB team was fourth-fastest in Daniel Ricciardo's hands, the Aussie gradually lowering his laptime over the course of the closing hours.

Alpine had spent most of the day on what looked like a high-fuel, hard-tyres programme, but Pierre Gasly did get to pick the pace up in the final minutes, eventually ending up as the last driver in that 1m32s range after taking fifth place from Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.

Stroll was at the centre of one of the more notable incidents during the day as his Aston Martin shed a left rearview mirror on the back straight and it was narrowly avoided by Ricciardo before being run over by the left front of Nico Hulkenberg's Haas.

Morning runners Leclerc, Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and Piastri completed the day's top nine, followed by Sauber's Zhou Guanyu and Williams sophomore Logan Sargeant.

Sargeant was the culprit in the day's biggest incident, spinning at speed through the fast Turn 9 leading into the treacherous Turn 10 left-hander.

Despite the speed of the spin the Williams FW46 appeared unscathed and continued on, but soon after Sargeant pitted and returned to the track it developed a driveshaft issue.

This limited him to just 21 laps - after team-mate Alex Albon had logged 40 in the morning before being halted by a fuel pump issue. It meant that Williams ended the day as comfortably last in the mileage ranks.

Apart from Sargeant's spin and a moment caught by Alpine's Esteban Ocon in the morning, it was a fairly tidy day - though there was no shortage of lock-ups through Turn 8 and particularly Turn 10, with Norris and Stroll responsible for a pair of big ones.

The top 14 all set their fastest times on C3 tyres. This included George Russell in 12th, as the sole Mercedes runner on the day - albeit with Mercedes having clearly focused on longer runs and harder tyres in the afternoon.

The new Haas, for which the team admits expectations are low to begin with, was the slowest car on track, with Kevin Magnussen and Hulkenberg at the bottom of the timesheets.

Haas did, however, top the day's mileage leaderboards - with the combined 148 laps by Magnussen and Hulkenberg five more than Verstappen's one-man efforts for Red Bull.

Wednesday test times

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1m31.344s, C3, 143 laps
2 Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.140s, C3, 73 laps
3 Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +1.240s, C3, 69 laps
4 Daniel Ricciardo (RB) +1.255s, C3, 52 laps
5 Pierre Gasly (Alpine) +1.461s, C3, 61 laps
6 Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1.663s, C3, 54 laps
7 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.903s, C3, 64 laps
8 Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +2.041s, C3, 77 laps
9 Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +2.314s, C3, 57 laps
10 Zhou Guanyu (Sauber) +2.527s, C3, 63 laps
11 Logan Sargeant (Williams) +2.538s, C3, 21 laps
12 George Russell (Mercedes) +2.765s, C3, 122 laps
13 Yuki Tsunoda (RB) +2.792s, C3, 64 laps
14 Valtteri Bottas (Sauber) +3.087s, C3, 68 laps
15 Alex Albon (Williams) +3.243s, C4, 40 laps
16 Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +3.333s, C3, 60 laps
17 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +4.348s, C3, 66 laps
18 Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) +4.562s, C3, 82 laps

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