Photo: Red Bull Media House

F1 Bahrain GP FP1: Perez tops opening session of the season

The 2023 Formula One season finally got underway at the Bahrain International Circuit, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez comfortably out front.


Williams’ Alexander Albon was the first driver out on the circuit, followed by his new team-mate, American rookie Logan Sergeant.

World Champion Max Verstappen had an early scare as he momentarily lost the back of the car pushing a little too hard in the opening minutes of the session. At the same time, his team-mate Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso sat first and second on the leaderboard.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen sat third as the session completed its first quarter of an hour.


At the halfway point of the session, it was a 1-2 for Red Bull, with Perez remaining top of the timesheets.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri put in a solid lap on the soft compound to climb up to fourth place at the half-hour marl, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in fifth after getting his lap time on the medium compound.

Fernando Alonso was sitting in third after his impressive lap on the medium compound tyre.


Then with 25 minutes left on the clock, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas climbed to third, just under two seconds behind Perez out front.

McLaren’s Lando Norris then got a little too adventurous and ran wide as he tested the limits of his new MCL60.


Carlos Sainz then had a big moment as he pushed in his Ferrari, avoiding the wall and being able to continue… however it was tens all-round from Torvill and Dean.


Going into the final fifteen minutes of the session, Lando Norris climbed up to third, while the Alfa Romeo pair of Zhou Guanyu and Bottas was sitting fourth and fifth.


Fernando Alonso climbed back to second on the timesheets with ten minutes remaining in the session, just under half a second behind the leading Red Bull of Perez.


Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was also getting some solid laps times for his first run out in an official session, after being injured for pre-season. He conducted driving duties in the team’s media day at Silverstone prior to the season starting.


As the checkered flag was waved, it marked an end to the opening session of the Formula One season, with Perez being followed by Alonso and Verstappen.


Here is how the top ten looked at the end of the session:

Free Practice Two takes place later this afternoon, with a 3 pm start for UK viewers. We will have coverage of that session here on our website and across our social media accounts.

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