F1 – Pérez quickest for Red Bull as pre-season testing draws to a close in Bahrain
Sergio Pérez set the fastest time of the three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain with the Mexican racer beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by more than three tenths of a second as Valtteri Botta took third spot for Alfa Romeo ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
As his defending champion team-mate Max Verstappen had done on the opening day of testing, Pérez spent the full day at the wheel of the RB19 and in hot temperatures the Red Bull driver, like many others, spent the morning session focusing on longer runs.
As the heat eased through the afternoon, however, drivers began to bolt on softer compound tyres as they explored the performance potential of their new cars with just over a week to go until the opening race of the season.
Hamilton took top spot in the afternoon with a lap of 1:30.781, with the seven-time champion using the softer C5 compound tyres to set a time that pushed him ahead of the morning’s quickest driver Charles Leclerc. Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz got to within two hundredths of his team-mate to sit third.
After spending the day on the C3 compound, Pérez then went a step softer and on the C4 tyres powered to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:30.616 on the slower C4 tyres. Hamilton improved but he still sat 0.048s behind the Red Bull.
And then, in the final hour, Pérez put clear water between himself and his rivals with a lap of 1:30.305 on C4s to boost his lead to 0.359s. That looked like being the final order but late in the session Bottas put in a good C5 lap of 1:30.82 to steal third from Leclerc, with Sainz in fifth.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finished a creditable sixth with a C4 time of 1:31.261, two tenths off Sainz and 0.956s off the pace set by Pérez. Tsunoda’s lap pushed Haas’ Kevin Magnussen out to seventh place ahead of Mercedes’ morning runner George Russell.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Drugovich took ninth and tenth places respectively as the Silverstone team enjoyed a positive end to their test phase. Lando Norris finished 11th for McLaren, though the Briton completed just 35 laps across the day, with his best time being set on C3 tyres.
Pierre Gasly was 13th for Alpine ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg finished 15th ahead of McLaren’s morning runner Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries propped up the timesheet.
2023 Formula 1 Pre-season Test – Bahrain, Day 3
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Red Bull 133 1:30.305
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 65 1:30.664 0.359
3 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 131 1:30.827 0.522
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 67 1:31.024 0.719
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 76 1:31.036 0.731
6 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 79 1:31.261 0.956
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 95 1:31.381 1.076
8 George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 83 1:31.442 1.137
9 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 80 1:31.450 1.145
10 Felipe Drugovich Aston Martin Mercedes 77 1:32.075 1.770
11 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 37 1:32.160 1.855
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 56 1:32.762 2.457
13 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 136 1:32.793 2.488
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 76 1:33.257 2.952
15 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 77 1:33.329 3.024
16 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 44 1:33.655 3.350
17 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 87 1:38.244 7.939