Perez quickest but Alonso looms large in Bahrain FP1

Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images

Perez quickest but Alonso looms large in Bahrain FP1

Formula 1

Perez quickest but Alonso looms large in Bahrain FP1


Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set a sizzling pace ahead of the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso at the opening practice session of the season in Bahrain.

Perez deployed the soft tire to set a session-best time of 1m 32.758s, almost half a second faster than the rest of the field and more than 0.6s quicker than teammate Max Verstappen in third.

Alonso’s second-place time caused the most interest, though, thanks to Aston Martin’s impressive pre-season showing and forecasts among the leading drivers that the green team could be set to join the front-runners. The two-time champion was 0.438s slower than Perez after his soft-tire run and 0.179s quicker than Verstappen.

The lap times set in the heat of the afternoon sun are unlikely to be representative of true performance or even the general pecking order, however, given the teams are preparing for a night-time qualifying session and race.

Lando Norris was fourth despite yet more unreliability from his McLaren MCL60. The papaya car returned to pit lane around 20 minutes into the session to address an apparent problem with its left wing mirror, with mechanics seen using cable ties and glue to undertake ad hoc repairs. The Briton returned to the track to lap 1.4s off the pace.

Charles Leclerc followed in fifth for Ferrari at 1.5s adrift after also encountering bodywork issues. His Ferrari’s rear wing spotted swinging erratically on its mounting early in the session, forcing some quick garage work to fix it in place.

Lance Stroll was sixth in the sister Aston Martin in his first in-car session since breaking his wrist in a bicycle accident a week ago. His session was almost derailed by an ignition problem after just two laps, but he was able to rejoin the track with around 30 minutes remaining.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas ahead of Alfa Romeo teammates Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes used an upgraded lower-drag rear wing in FP1, but Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could muster only 10th and 11th, both around 2.2s off the leading pace.

Oscar Piastri ended his first practice session 12th ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, and the returning Nico Hulkenberg in the second Haas machine.

Esteban Ocon was 15th and 2.3s off the pace for Alpine, which is yet to show its hand after a low-key preseason testing program. Teammate Pierre Gasly was 17th, with the pair split by Nyck de Vries in 16th.

Williams duo Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon were 18th and 19th, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz ended the session last after a massive spin at Turn 9 ruined a brand-new set of medium tires. The Spaniard lost control of his car over a bump in the braking zone for the corner, sending him spinning through the run-off zone before regaining control in time to avoid a crash.

Presented by