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Formula 1: Charles Leclerc overtakes George Russell on the final day of pre-season testing

Formula 1: Charles Leclerc overtakes George Russell on the final day of pre-season testing

On the final day of Formula 1 pre-season testing, held at the Bahrain International Circuit, Ferrari were once again the dominant force on the timesheets, with Charles Leclerc quickest all day and Carlos Sainz through the morning. Hours, when he was driving a Ferrari SF-24. The driver from Monaco finished the day with a time of 1:30.322 seconds on C5 tyres, beating George Russell in a Mercedes W15 and surprise Qu Guanyu in a Sauber C44.

Max Verstappen was unable to repeat what he did on the first day of testing, as he remained 0.433 seconds behind the reference mark of his Monaco competitor, but it is worth noting that the best time recorded by the three-time Formula 1 world champion was on used C3 tires. While Cho (C4), Russell (C4) and Leclerc (C5) ran on soft tyres.

Sergio Perez was more competitive during the morning, despite his misfortune when he ran over a drain cover which exploded and damaged the underside of his Red Bull RB20. Despite this setback, the Mexican driver finished second during his time driving for Milton Keynes, with Carlos Sainz as a reference.

Today was also marked by an outage in the morning due to the same problem as yesterday. Less than 30 minutes after the start of the morning session of the final day of testing, work on the track was interrupted, once again due to the drain cover being lifted. When Perez ran over a drain cover, it exploded and required repairs, halting the morning session. To make up for the lost time – about an hour – it was decided not to take a lunch break. Thus there was only one big session to end the three days of group testing.

Yesterday's morning session was interrupted and then shortened to allow time to repair one of these covers.

In the morning, the Spaniard from Ferrari put his single-seater in front early so as not to get out of there. Sainz reached the mark of 1:31.247 seconds in the Ferrari SF-24 even before the stop, with Sergio Perez right behind him, at 0.400 seconds, a situation that continued until they both made way for their teammates, running different programs to take advantage of the final moments of the test. Pre-season.

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This was the standings among the first drivers on the track in the morning:

  1. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 1:31.247 seconds, C3 – 16 laps
  2. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 1:31.647 seconds, C3 – 14 laps
  3. Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:32.108 seconds, C3 – 12 laps
  4. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, 1:32.361 sec, C3 – 14 laps
  5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:32.902 seconds, C3 – 10 laps
  6. Alexander Albon, Williams, 1:33.093 seconds, C3 – 13 laps
  7. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:33.273 seconds, C3 – 16 laps
  8. Valtteri Bottas, Sauber, 1:33.690 seconds, C3 – 7 laps
  9. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 1:33.965 sec, C3 – 8 laps
  10. Daniel Ricciardo, R, 1:38.044, C3 – 12 laps

Of the ten drivers in the morning – Alexander Albon was the only one who remained on duty all day – Lando Norris made way for Oscar Piastri after completing just 20 laps due to an alleged clutch problem in the MCL38, which was resolved by mechanical science.

During the afternoon session, it did not take long for Max Verstappen, who returned to the wheel of the Red Bull RB20 this afternoon after yesterday and this morning it was Sergio Perez's turn on the track, to put himself at the top of the timesheets.

The Dutchman returned to drive the RB20 while Charles Leclerc showed strong pace, and even on his first timed lap, Verstappen was seventh on the day's timesheets, 1.422 seconds behind Carlos Sainz's mark. It improved shortly after to 1:32.250 seconds (+1.003 seconds). About 45 minutes after taking the wheel of the RB20, Max Verstappen finished the lap with the fastest time at the time, with C3 tires fitted to the car, with a time of 1:31.058.

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However, Charles Leclerc took the fastest mark, with around two hours remaining before the end of the pre-season group test in Bahrain. The driver from Monaco fitted the soft tires and took the lead in this particular event, achieving a personal best result in the first sector and the best mark of the day in the intermediate sector, setting the reference time of 1:30.332 seconds, with the C5 tires mounted on the soft tyres. Ferrari SF-24.

After this difficult time, all drivers started on track in race simulations, with different fuel loads and long laps. After approximately 40 minutes in the garage, Charles Leclerc returned to the track with new C3 tires to collect data over several successive laps.

Towards the end of the day, Pierre Gasly lost part of the protection on his right front wheel, which was lost while braking at Turn 1. The driver stopped in the pit box while track marshals cleared the track, all they had to do was show the traffic signal. Yellow flag in that area.

Shortly afterwards, with the soft tires fitted to the Mercedes W15, George Russell moved to second place in the time sheets, with a time of 1:30.368 seconds, 0.046 seconds off Leclerc's mark, which remained the reference time for the entire race, while Alexander Albon jumped to Fifth place with a time of 1:30.984 seconds.

Zhou Guanyu, in his final attempt on the track, also beat Verstappen's time and finished third, 0.325 seconds behind Leclerc. Pre-season testing ended in this manner, with several important topics still to be discussed, one of which was the issue of drain covers that burst and damaged individual seats.

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The Formula 1 season officially kicks off next Thursday, February 29, with free trials for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

  1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:30.322 seconds, C4 – 74 laps
  2. George Russell, Mercedes 1:30.368 seconds, C4 – 67 laps
  3. Zhou Guanyu, Sauber, 1:30.647 seconds, C4 – 85 laps
  4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:30.755 sec, C3 – 66 laps
  5. Yuki Tsunoda, Visa Cash App RB, 1:30.775 seconds, C4 – 53 laps
  6. Alexander Albon, Williams, 1:30.984 seconds, C4 – 121 laps
  7. Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 1:31.030 sec, C3 – 91 laps
  8. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, 1:31.159 sec, C3 – 75 laps
  9. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 1:31.247 seconds, C3 – 71 laps
  10. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 1:31.483 seconds, C3 – 53 laps
  11. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, 1:31.686 sec, C3 – 89 laps
  12. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:31.999 seconds, C5 – 49 laps
  13. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, 1:32.038 seconds, C3 – 46 laps
  14. Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:32.108 seconds, C3 – 20 laps
  15. Pierre Gasly, Alpine, 1:32.149 sec, C3 – 47 laps
  16. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:33.053 seconds, C3 – 80 laps
  17. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 1:33.079 sec, C3 – 55 laps
  18. Valtteri Bottas, Sauber, 1:33.528 seconds, C3 – 28 laps
  19. Daniel Ricciardo, Visa Cash App RB, 1:37.015 seconds, C1 – 70 laps
  20. Logan Sargent, Williams, no time – no laps

Photo: Philip Nancino/MPSA