Connect with us

Formula 1

2024 Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing Concludes in Bahrain

SAKHIR, Bahrain – FEBRUARY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson | Getty Images)

SAKHIR, Bahrain — Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen topped the charts on the first day of the 2024 pre-season testing, while Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari respectively posted staggering lap times for the remaining two days.

The opening day of pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit ended with Verstappen’s impressive lap time of 1:31.344, completing an entire full day in the Red Bull Racing outfit. Lando Norris in the McLaren trailed the Dutchman, who was on the Pirelli range C3 tyres, by 1.140 seconds – along with Sainz’s Ferrari just a tenth seconds further. Pierre Gasly in the Alpine was beaten by Daniel Ricciardo in the recently reintroduced Visa Cash App RB, which clocked in at fourth quickest overall.

Upon the conclusion of first day testing, Verstappen shared his thoughts on driving the RB20: “I think it was more important just to get the long running done and then get a bit more of an understanding of the car, so we focused on that program and to be honest I think it all looked quite positive.

“I’m quite happy with the car, how it was behaving, and then when we head into the race weekend it’s about fine-tuning the balance around the circumstances that you face throughout that weekend. I think there’s of course always a lot of work to do – you always want to do better, but I think we had a very positive test and we learned a lot from every single thing that we changed on the car, and we also know what we want to do for next week, and that’s what we’ll focus on.” Said the three-times World Champion.

The second day of the pre-season testing was halted over a loose drain cover during the morning session, taking the toll on Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari – a similar occurrence during the Free Practice session of the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix. Leclerc was dominating the morning session with a lap time of 1:31.750, just before debris struck as he shifted on a drain cover.

The Monegasque sustained damage on the floor of his SF-24, and he had to return to the track in the afternoon with a replacement floor. Day 2 of pre-season testing was wrapped up by Sainz, who finished 84 laps in 1:29.921, surpassing Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing by 0.758 seconds during the afternoon session.

SAKHIR, Bahrain – FEBRUARY 21: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson | Getty Images)

Pre-season testing came to an abrupt stop for more than an hour on the third and last day after Sergio Perez raced over a drain cover, prompting it to rip off again. The tables turned for Leclerc and his Ferrari as he recorded the fastest time of 1:30.322, giving him a 0.046s gap over competitors George Russell in his Mercedes and Zhou Guanyu of SauberOscar Piastri of McLaren finished seventh in 1:31.030 after the team had to change up the line-up earlier than others after restricting their morning run with Lando Norris due to a clutch problem.

When asked about Ferrari’s pre-season testing in Bahrain, Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur said: “We can be pleased with what we’ve achieved during this test, both in terms of mileage covered and the raft of data it has provided. On top of that, both Charles and Carlos were happy with how things went. These were three productive days, with no technical problems, which is what you want most, especially when it’s the only session before the start of the season.

“Our first goal was to see if the SF-24 performed predictably, not being overly sensitive to the variations in the external conditions and that it was easy to drive. From what Charles and Carlos have said and looking at the consistency of their performance over a long run, it seems we were successful on this front. It’s very important to have the car behave like this as it means the driver can quickly get an understanding of its characteristics and then get the most out of it.” Vasseur concluded.

SAKHIR, Bahrain – FEBRUARY 23: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari prepares to drive in the garage during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Philippe Nanchino/Eurasia Sport Images | Getty Images)

While lap timings do not always indicate a car’s level of competitiveness, pre-season testing allows teams to evaluate whether the new design concepts of their contenders are performing according to expectations – enabling the chance for the entire 20 cars lined up on the grid to have a taste of their battle machinery. Engineers then gather the three-day testing’s data results to ensure that they match the simulation.

Red Bull Racing appears to have potential for the upcoming 2024 season, just as it did the previous year. Conversely, Ferrari astonished and thrilled fans with the results of their outstanding pre-testing run. Leclerc praised the SF-24 for being ‘a lot better’ than the 2023 competitor, emphasizing how much more reliable and consistent the car is. While experiencing many issues during pre-season testing, McLaren and the other front-runners remained positive about their impending campaign. Mercedes pilots, Russell and Lewis Hamilton, also asserted that the new W15 is an improvement over its predecessor.

Aston Martin and other midfielders seemed slower this year than they did the previous, but it would not be shocking to see them at the front of the field, given how they surprised everyone in the 2023 season’s opening races. The remainder of the grid appeared stable in spite of inconsistent testing that prevented it from unleashing its maximum capacity.

Haas is one of the ten teams that has made a point of expressing their dissatisfaction with their lack of development for the 2024 Formula 1 season. The chief engineer of the Haas F1 Team, Ayao Komatsu, stated that the team’s redesigned car was not able to provide significant outcomes and that they anticipate finishing ‘in the back of the grid, if not the last.’

The 2024 Formula 1 season kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 29, in Bahrain International Circuit.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Formula 1