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Verstappen leads Sainz on opening morning of Bahrain pre-season test

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Carlos Sainz pre-season testing 2023

Max Verstappen set the fastest time for Red Bull on the first morning of 2023 pre-season testing, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in second place – while Aston Martin were hampered by a reliability issue.

The red flag was flown 10 minutes into the session when Felipe Drugovich – in the absence of regular driver Lance Stroll – ground to a halt with an electrical issue in his Aston Martin AMR23. After a 25-minute stoppage, the session resumed – and Drugovich eventually re-emerged, finishing seventh with a late effort.

READ MORE: Who's driving on Day 1 of pre-season testing in Bahrain

Sainz was fastest halfway into the morning but Verstappen eclipsed him by three tenths of a second with 40 minutes remaining, the reigning champion setting the fastest time of 1m 32.959s. Verstappen continues in the afternoon for Red Bull but the other nine teams are set to swap drivers.

Alex Albon took third for Williams and led the mileage charts with 74 laps.

Max Verstappen pre-season testing 2023

Max Verstappen continues for Red Bull in the afternoon

Zhou Guanyu had a trouble-free stint for Alfa Romeo as he ended the morning fourth, ahead of Mercedes' George Russell, who led the field out when testing got under way at 1000 local time on Thursday.

Thursday saw Haas unveil their VF-23 in the pit lane before Nico Hulkenberg took the wheel. The F1 returnee finished sixth for the team.

ESSENTIAL GUIDE: How to read Bahrain pre-season testing – with F1 strategy expert Bernie Collins

Yuki Tsunoda finished eighth for AlphaTauri ahead of his former team mate Pierre Gasly, who took ninth in his Alpine. Rookie Oscar Piastri rounded out the standings for McLaren.

After an hour-long break, testing will continue until 1930 local time, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris stepping into their respective cars.

F1.com has live coverage of every session and, depending on your territory, you can catch the action on F1 TV or via your local broadcaster.

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