Formula One: Business as usual for world champion Verstappen in F1 testing

AFP , Wednesday 21 Feb 2024

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen gave his struggling rivals little hope for optimism ahead of the new Formula One season when he dominated the first day of winter testing on Wednesday.

Max Verstappen
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car for a Formula One pre season test at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. AP


The Red Bull driver was more than a second faster than Lando Norris in a McLaren with Carlos Sainz, about to start his final year as a Ferrari driver, in third place at the Sakhir track where the season-opener takes place on March 2.

Sainz will lose his seat at Ferrari to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton who is entering his last campaign behind the wheel of a Mercedes. Hamilton will be in action on Thursday.

Verstappen's performance was a boost for a Red Bull team reeling from an investigation into team chief Christian Horner who has been accused of inappropriate and controlling behaviour by a female member of staff.

Testing times on the first day of three on Wednesday:

1. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:31.344 sec (143 laps)

2. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren) +1.140 (73)

3. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) +1.240 (69)

4. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Racing Bulls) +1.255 (52)

5. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Alpine) +1.461 (61)

6. Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin) +1.663 (54)

7. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) +1.903 (64)

8. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Aston Martin) +2.041 (77)

9. Oscar Piastri (AUS/McLaren) +2.314 (57)

10. Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Sauber) +2.527 (63)

11. Logan Sargeant (USA/Williams) +2.538 (21)

12. George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) +2.765 (122)

13. Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/Racing Bulls) +2.792 (64)

14. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Sauber) +3.087 (68)

15. Alex Albon (THA/Williams) +3.243 (40)

16. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine) +3.333 (60)

17. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas) +4.348 (66)

18. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Haas) +4.562 (82)

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