Perez and Red Bull fastest as 2023 pre-season testing comes to an end in Bahrain
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez set the fastest time of 2023 pre-season testing under the floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit after Charles Leclerc topped the morning session.
Leclerc’s morning benchmark of 1m 31.024s was set on C4 tyres and it stood until the floodlights were blazing over the track, when temperatures decreased and drivers fitted C4 and C5 compounds for short runs. Perez went top with a lap of 1m 30.305s on C4s – an effort that was faster than last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix pole time – as Leclerc dropped to fourth.
AS IT HAPPENED: Day 3 of Pre-Season Testing in Bahrain
Lewis Hamilton has been encouraged by signs of improvement at Mercedes, and used his W14 to take P2 in the afternoon session, running the C5 tyres.
Saturday morning saw red flags fly as a sensor strip and a few pieces of carbon fibre flew off Perez’s Red Bull. The Mexican driver managed more than 130 laps over Friday in another productive and largely trouble-free day for the champions, as Max Verstappen watched on from the pit wall.
Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas shot to third late on, using C5 tyres, after Zhou Guanyu went fastest yesterday.
Carlos Sainz finished fourth on C4s, while Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top five for AlphaTauri, using the same compound.
Kevin Magnussen was seventh (on C4s) in the Haas, while his new team mate Nico Hulkenberg finished 15th on C3s, having run in the morning.
Behind Magnussen was C5-shod George Russell in eighth after his morning session.
Felipe Drugovich took the wheel at Aston Martin on Saturday morning to finish 10th on C5s, before Fernando Alonso returned to the car to take ninth on C4s. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, with an issue cropping up around the car’s rear suspension which required some repairs in the pits.
McLaren’s wheel brows threatened to detach from the car, but the team said it was a “minor issue” that will be fixed for next weekend’s opener. In the evening, Lando Norris finished 11th on C3s while Oscar Piastri spun at Turn 9 on the way to P16 in the morning.
Alpine's Pierre Gasly drove in the morning and finished 12th before Esteban Ocon took over for P14 – between them the Williams of Alex Albon, who led the individual mileage charts with nearly 140 laps.
Nyck de Vries rounded out the standings for AlphaTauri as Logan Sargeant, Zhou Guanyu and Verstappen sat out of Saturday having finished their respective programmes.
The season begins here at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 3-5 for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, with live coverage, reaction and features on F1.com.