The 2022 Formula 1 season ended with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the top of the table.
The 2023 F1 season began the same way.
Verstappen led the field during the first session of pre-season testing on Thursday at Bahrain International Circuit, in advance of the season’s first Grand Prix, the Bahrain Grand Prix slated for next weekend. Verstappen’s best lap time of 1:32.959 just edged out the time posted by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr.
Verstappen is slated to drive in the afternoon session for Red Bull, while the other nine teams will switch their drivers for the second session of the day.
This was the first time that the teams were all on the track together in advance of the 2023 F1 season, giving teams — and fans — a chance to see all the teams in action. And more importantly, to see whether all the hard work from the off-season would pay off.
When the ten drivers took to the grid for the morning session, some teams had aero rakes on their cars, as a means of measuring the air flow over parts of the vehicle. You can see these aero rakes on both the Mercedes and the AlphaTauri in this below video, showing each of the ten cars during the morning testing session:
Here is another look at the aero rakes on Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri:
Here is the full classification from the morning session, from F1.com:
While the other teams changed their drivers, Verstappen stayed on the track for Red Bull during the afternoon session. When all was said and done, he remained atop the board, having logged an impressive 157 laps in Red Bull’s RB19, their 2023 challenger:
DAY 1 TESTING CLASSIFICATION— Formula 1 (@F1) February 23, 2023
Max Verstappen and Red Bull on fire
And, an impressive time from Fernando Alonso in the @AstonMartinF1 car, with the Ferraris close behind #F1 #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/uSYNhWfWLY
As you can see, Verstappen managed to shave a little bit of time off during the afternoon session.
Verstappen is slated to be in the cockpit for Red Bull again during the Friday morning session, before handing the wheel to teammate Sergio Perez to close out the three days of pre-season testing for the team.