Photo: Ferrari

F1: Leclerc fastst on final day of testing

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fastest on the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain as George Russell and Zhou Guanyu left it late to set their fastest time of the day to take second and third.


Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) was the first driver out on track on the third and final day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Lando  Norris (McLaren), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Daniel Ricciardo (RB), Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Alex Albon (Williams) followed shortly afterwards.


Just before the half-hour mark the red flag came out after a drain cover came loose. This was at turn 11 which was at the same corner where the kerb came loose in Thursday’s session which ended early.

Then it was announced that the session would run until 7 pm local time, so the afternoon session would be a continuation of the morning one with the lunch break effectively being cancelled.


When the session resumed, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Sainz and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) were first out on track.


After struggling for lap time in Thursday’s session, McLaren was hoping that their reliability issues were a thing of the past. However, Norris was only limited to twenty laps before Piastri took over, this time it was a clutch issue for the team.

With Max Verstappen taking over from Perez, it didn’t take long to go top of the leaderboard after his first lap moved him up to seventh. He would go two-tenths faster than Sainz before Charles Leclerc went even faster and claimed top spot by 0.3 seconds.


Oscar Piastri would move up to third place with a lap time that was over a second faster than his pole time last season. This not only shows the progress that McLaren has made going into this season as well as the improvements in his performances as he gets more and more laps under his belt in F1.


Pierre Gasly was forced back into the pits as the session entered its final 45 minutes as a chunk of his front right wheel cover came flying off and was left at the side of the track, which trackside marshals quickly removed.

The final hour of the session was the time for the teams to get one final strong lap time on the board ahead of the new season. Yuki Tsuonda (RB) put a set of C4 tyres on his car and moved up to third place, 0.2 seconds behind Verstappen.

George Russell (Mercedes) was next up to show the true potential of his Mercedes and his final sector was the fastest out of anyone today to that point, but stayed in fourth. He would then go second overall, just 0.046s off Leclerc’s time.

Zhou Guanyu (Kick Sauber) also made the switch to the C4 compound and would go third before the virtual safety car was called for a systems check, putting an end to the competitive running for the day.

This would then become a full safety car before the red flag and then a standing start was called to allow drivers to get back into the groove of a race start and allow the broadcast to promote the race next weekend.


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