Red Bull Racing with defending champion Max Verstappen, Mercedes and maybe Ferrari – that’s the list of favorites ahead of the Formula 1 season opener on Sunday in Bahrain (4 p.m. live on ServusTV and Sky). With his best time in today’s free practice session, Fernando Alonso caused astonishment on the one hand and guesswork on the other. Can the Spaniard in the Aston Martin – the team did not finish seventh in the constructors’ championship last year – actually keep up at the top?
Traditionally, before the start of the race on Sunday, camouflage and deception are very important. The fact is that Aston Martin had already cut a good figure during the test drives, which were also held in Bahrain. Alonso and team-mate Lance Stroll (6th in practice) were also fast in the long runs simulated towards the end of Friday practice – the cars then run on more fuel.
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The latter was still handicapped by a broken wrist. When the team asked him to use a tighter radius in turn one, the Canadian replied that it was not possible “because of my hand”.
The Spaniard didn’t want to be blinded by the good previous performances. “We’re happy with the car, but we can’t take off now,” said the 41-year-old, who added: “I really don’t know how good we are in comparison.”
Behind the veteran, who had switched from Alpine to Aston Martin before the season, the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez lined up in training. The former complained on the pit radio that his car jumped more than it did in the most recent test drives.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, tenth and eighth in the training sessions, received another exemption from the world association (FIA) in the debate about wearing his nose piercing on Friday. After a medical certificate and the subsequent check by an FIA doctor, the Mercedes application was approved. There are concerns “due to disfigurement with frequent attempts” to remove the piercing, it said in a statement.
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