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F1 pre-season testing 2024, Ferrari on top in Bahrain

By Imma Aurino and Giulianna Faliero

The F1 pre-season testing sessions in Bahrain have come to an end! After the long winter break we’ve had the chance to finally see the cars back on track. The teams didn’t showcase the new liveries only, but also all the newest updates in terms of set-ups and aeodynamics. All the hard work done in the factories has been out to the test, the drivers have had a first feel with the new cars and all is ready to kick off the season on March 21st.

As always lap times might not be trustworthy, especially on the first day. In fact different teams test in different ways. At the same time there can be drivers trying qualifying laps, race pace or simply testing the car’s behaviour in different parts of the track. Laptimes also depend on the tyre compoud used and on the amount of fuel the car has during a given lap. So we’re really unable to establish which car is “the fastest”.

But what did actually happen during this F1 pre-season testing?

F1 pre-season Testing, Day 1 – Wednesday 21st

On wednesday during the morning most cars did a few laps wearing aero rakes or flow vis paint, which means they’re collecting data regarding the aerodynamic efficiency. Aston Martin started the first session strong with Fernando Alonso setting the pace with a lap time of 1:33.822 seconds after the first few laps. Meanwhile Charles Leclerc kept a constant rhythm on his Ferrari in order to keep it stable and compare the new data with the one already collected in the wind tunnel back in Maranello. Max Verstappen started the session wearing some brand new C1 tyres, but his RB20 looked slightly unstable.

Leclerc’s SF-24 with aero rakes

During the second hour Ocon unfortunately went off-track with his A524, but he managed to recover almost immediately. After spending some time in the boxes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and RedBull went for a qualifing simulation, where Verstappen set the fastest lap of the session. Mercedes didn’t let Russell out on track until the very last hour of the morning, still he didn’t quite look for a quali pace. Also, at 21 minutes from the ending, Alex Albon‘s Williams had some issues that forced him to stop the car before the pits, causing a yellow flag.

What about the afternoon session?

For the afternoon session, only Mercedes and RedBull kept the same driver. All the other teams preferred to have both drivers testing on the same day. Verstappen closed the session once again with the best lap time of 1:31.344.

Williams, after Albon’s issue in the morning, didn’t have and easy day. In fact in the afternoon session Sargeant ended up in the gravel following a spin and ended his test session early.

Lando Norris took his McLaren on track in the afternoon session. He also wore special helmet in honour of Gil de Ferran, who died prematurely in December 2023.

Ferrari got Carlos Sainz behind the wheel for the first time after announcing his departure from the team at the end of the 2024 season. The spaniard had an overall positive session finishing third with a lap time of 1:32.584 seconds . After 37 laps, work was carried out on his single-seater but Ferrari chose to pull up the pit barriers so as not to show what was being studied and eventually fixed.

There are no certainties after just one day of testing, but it looks that RedBull will still be the car to beat. Will the next sessions prove it wrong?

F1 pre-season testing, Day 2 – Thursday 22nd

The Day 2 of Formula 1 testing with the brand-new cars has just concluded, as teams gear up for the imminent start of the new season. Thursday afternoon’s session, which ended once again due to a red flag (this time a fictitious one), saw Ferrari solidify its position among the top contenders in Sahkir. However, it was certainly not the only team making its presence felt.

Morning session – Drain, here we go again

The second day of Formula 1 testing in Bahrain saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc emerge as the pace-setter, despite encountering a setback caused by a dislodged drain cover. The incident – reminiscent of past troubles at the Las Vegas Grand Prix – disrupted Ferrari’s plans but didn’t deter Leclerc from showcasing the SF-24’s potential.

Amidst the challenges posed by the loose drain cover, Leclerc managed to complete a promising long run on C3 tires, demonstrating improved tire management compared to previous seasons. His unfortunate encounter with the manhole cover forced him to halt a race simulation, but not before posting the fastest time of the morning session with a lap of 1’31”750, covering 36 laps in total.

While Leclerc’s Ferrari showed promising signs, Sergio Perez faced issues with brake overheating in his RB20, limiting his track time to just 20 laps. However, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton capitalized on their sessions, clocking in more laps despite the disruptions. The midday standings reflect a mix of performance and perseverance amidst unexpected challenges, setting the stage for an intriguing remainder of the testing session.

Afternoon session day 2 – Sainz leads

Day 2 of Formula 1 testing in Bahrain saw a strong showing from the Ferrari team, with Carlos Sainz leading the pack despite encountering a few hurdles along the way. While Ferrari’s performance was a highlight of the day, Sergio Perez showcased Red Bull’s potential, and Lewis Hamilton proved Mercedes’ competitiveness.

Sainz’s afternoon session was particularly noteworthy topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1’29”921. His consistent performance, especially in long runs, highlighted the SF-24’s improved tire management compared to its predecessor.

Meanwhile, Perez’s efforts in the RB20 hinted at Red Bull’s strong position for the upcoming season. Despite facing minor setbacks during the afternoon session, Perez managed to clock the third-fastest time of the day with a lap time of 1’30”679, showcasing the car’s potential for both qualifying and race simulations.

Hamilton also put in a solid performance for Mercedes, completing 123 laps and setting the second-fastest time of the day with a lap time of 1’31”066. His consistent pace and long-run simulations signaled Mercedes’ improved form compared to previous seasons.

While Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes showed strong performances, McLaren’s Lando Norris faced technical issues but still managed to post competitive lap times. Daniel Ricciardo also impressed with his performance for VCARB 01, demonstrating the car’s potential for the upcoming season.

F1 pre-season testing, Day 3 – Friday 23rd

Once again, Bahrain’s F1 testing was disrupted by an unexpected event – this time, the dislodging of a manhole cover, reminiscent of the incident on Day 2.

Morning session – Another red flag

Despite this interruption, the morning session of Day 3 concluded with Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari SF-24 setting the pace. Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton followed closely behind in the timesheets.

The troublesome drain cover at Turn 11 made a repeat appearance, prompting a red flag and halting the morning session abruptly. Despite the setback, Sainz managed to put in an impressive performance, topping the timesheets with a time of 1’31”247 after completing 71 laps. This reaffirms Ferrari’s progress compared to the challenging 2023 season.

Perez demonstrated Red Bull’s competitiveness by securing the second-fastest time with 53 laps completed, while Hamilton trailed closely behind in third place, completing 49 laps. Lance Stroll finished fourth before handing over the car to Fernando Alonso.

McLaren’s Lando Norris faced technical issues, limiting his running to 20 laps, with a best time of 1’32”108. Norris expressed concerns about McLaren’s competitiveness compared to Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes.

Further down the order, Alexander Albon and Kevin Magnussen performed well for their respective teams, while Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas struggled to make a significant impact on the timesheets.

F1 test Day 3, Afternoon session – Long runs and last laps

The second part of the day kicked off with a stint by Oscar Piastri on the C1 tire. Only Alex Albon completed the entire day. The start of the afternoon session was marked by inactivity as most teams were working on adapting their cars for the drivers joining in this second session.

After crossing the four-hour mark, Fernando Alonso did a couple of laps on used C3 tires before returning to the pits. He was joined by Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Leclerc, and Russell, among others.

Verstappen impressed with his incredible race pace, showing strength on both C3 and C1 tires. Aston Martin also surprised, demonstrating that their car has more performance than initially thought.

However, Ferrari emerges as the second force with Leclerc topping the session. The Monegasque driver was fastest, setting a time of 1:30.322 on the C5 tire. Second was George Russell, just 45 hundredths behind with the C4, followed unexpectedly by Guanyu Zhou in third.

In terms of laps, Haas completed the most with 169 laps, followed by Ferrari (145 laps), Visa Cash App RB (123 laps), Aston Martin (121 laps), Williams (121 laps), Red Bull (119 laps), Mercedes (116 laps), Stake Sauber (113 laps), McLaren (111 laps), and lastly Alpine, surpassing the century mark with 102 laps.

Multiformula International

Multiformula is a blog born in 2020 to share our passion for motorsport, to give space to those categories such as the Feeder Series which are not so popular yet and above all to break down the prejudices encountered in these categories. We deal with Italian F1 to F4, from Formula E to Indy but also endurance championships such as the Dakar.

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