Verstappen finishes in style during final pre-season tests, confirms Ferrari, Alpine reassures

Max Verstappen in the lead, cautious Ferrari favourite, Lewis Hamilton unable to aim for victory for now: this is the latest photo from F1 pre-season testing, which concluded in Bahrain on Saturday 12 March. The defending champion (Red Bull) finished first, beating in particular the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) with 0″695), the Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Alpine) with 0″978 and the Briton George Russell (Mercedes) with 1039″. ) .

Thanks to an exceptional overtime authorization after a freight problem, Haas surprised again. After the best time of the returning Kevin Magnussen on Saturday, Mick Schumacher set the second fastest time just half a second behind Verstappen (+0″521).

However, these differences must be weighed up in tire choice: Verstappen and Russell were fitted with softer, faster one-lap, Leclerc’s and Alonso’s were a notch. As for the German, his time was set after 7pm local time (5pm French time), in a cooler climate more favorable for speed.

For Mercedes, whose bodywork was the surprise of this second test session with almost absent side pods on the sides, it is therefore no time to celebrate. †At the moment I don’t think we are going to fight for the win, but the car has the potential to get there.Hamilton warned at a press conference. His single-seater appears to be difficult to maneuver. Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) confirms to have seen Hamilton.”wrestle“and thinks his team has”a bit of work to fight in the foreground

Next week [lors du premier Grand Prix, toujours à Bahreïn]† we’ll have a much better demonstration of our pace, but I think people will be surprised, maybe…“, continues the seven-time world champion, who has been crowned six times with Mercedes since 2014.”People keep asking if we’re putting ourselves down or not, but this year it’s a little different.”confirms the vice-champion in title.

Hamilton and the others are pushing for the performance of Ferrari, which has worked hard to produce a fast and reliable F1 after two difficult years. †It’s definitely one of the easiest prep I’ve had for a season. There were no major problemssays Charles Leclerc. Above all, in such a new project you always expect to find obstacles and at the moment (…) it has been quite easy and we have managed to improve continuously.

The Monegasque calls only one “problem of” porpoises under certain conditionsHere’s the unexpected perverse effect of the dramatic change in single-seater aerodynamics this season: they bounce up and down in a straight line, more or less heavily dependent on the car, risking parts breaking and hindering pilots. .

But on the clock, “everyone seems to be pretty close at one point or another“, tempers Leclerc.”We know how much margin we have, but we have no idea how many others are hiding their game, so we have to be really careful. It’s good to be in the lead, but that’s nothing right now.

Another team is expected as McLaren has been making constant progress in Bahrain since 2019, following the promises of the first tests in Barcelona at the end of February. “NOTWe ran into some issues that limited the number of laps we did, especially on the long stints.says British pilot Lando Norris.So we are still a long way from where we want to be, where we need to be and where we can say that we are confident for the first race.

Additional tile for the English team, the second driver Daniel Ricciardo did not participate in these tests, suffering from Covid-19. However, the Australian’s isolation period ends before the Bahrain GP. Made an appointment for the qualifications at the same circuit of Sakhir, Saturday. Observers will then know who has hidden their game.