F1: Perez tops opening practice for Bahrain GP

by Mark Cipolloni

In conditions that will not be representative to what the drivers will experience in qualifying and the race, Red Bull driver Sergio Perez turned a lap time of 1m32.758s to lead opening practice for the Bahrain GP.

No one is showing their real hand yet, as the times will tumble later when the sun sets.

Fernando Alonso was 2nd quick for Aston Martin, 0.438s behind the Mexican, underscoring that the green cars may be a force to be reckoned with this year.

Max Verstappen was third fastest in the 2nd Red Bull Honda, 0.617s behind his teammate.

Lando Norris was 4th for McLaren, 1.4s Perez.

“We are happy with the session so far,” said Zak Brown.

“Listening to both drivers they are definitely happier with the car than they were at testing, so it looks like we are making some forward progress. As you know with these cars they are never perfect, so I wouldn’t say we have anything solved, but we are making a step in the right direction. Predictions are always tricky especially this early in the weekend, but I think we will put a better performance than we did in testing. Q3 is going to be tight because the midfield is so compressed, but let’s see.”

The top-5 cars set their times on Pirelli soft tires.

Charles Leclerc rounded out the top-5 for Ferrari on Pirelli medium rubber.

Mercedes only ran the medium compound tires in that session, so they have kept their powder dry for now. Hamilton wound up in P10, Russell was 11th. Can they make strides forward under the lights? We’ll find out a little later on.

Carlos Sainz Jr. had a spin in his Ferrari and it appeared there was some floor damage to the car that Ferrari had to look at.

Practice 1 Results

1 Sergio Perez MEX Oracle Bull Racing 1m32.758s 0.000s
2 Fernando Alonso ESP Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant 1m33.196s 0.438s
3 Max Verstappen NED Oracle Red Bull Racing 1m33.375s 0.617s
4 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team 1m34.165s 1.407s
5 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari 1m34.257s 1.499s
6 Lance Stroll CAN Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant 1m34.298s 1.540s
7 Kevin Magnussen DEN MoneyGram Haas F1 Team 1m34.402s 1.644s
8 Zhou Guanyu CHN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake 1m34.575s 1.817s
9 Valtteri Bottas FIN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake 1m36.689s 1.931s
10 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 1m34.917s 2.159s
11 George Russell GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 1m34.966s 2.208s
12 Oscar Piastri AUS McLaren F1 Team 1m34.997s 2.239s
13 Yuki Tsunoda JPN Scuderia AlphaTauri 1m35.015s 2.257s
14 Nico Hulkenberg GER MoneyGram Haas F1 Team 1m35.043s 2.285s
15 Esteban Ocon FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team 1m35.105s 2.347s
16 Nyck de Vries NED Scuderia AlphaTauri 1m35.402s 2.644s
17 Pierre Gasly FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team 1m34.455s 2.697s
18 Logan Sargeant USA Williams Racing 1m34.749s 2.991s
19 Alex Albon THA Williams Racing 1m36.018s 3.260s
20 Carlos Sainz ESP Scuderia Ferrari 1m36.072s 3.314s