FROM SENT TO SAKHIR. Here is the Formula 1 that the tests had anticipated. World champion Max Verstappen is the fastest, but he has behind him, very close, two Ferraris, those of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in order. Not only that: among the top ten single-seaters, five are powered by the Prancing Horse engine: in addition to the two Reds we have Valtteri Bottas in sixth position with Alfa Romeo, Mick Schumacher eighth with Haas and Kevin Magnussen, called by Haas herself to replace the Russian Nikita Mazepin, who achieved the tenth time. This is the verdict of free practice for the Bahraini GP, the first round of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship.
Ferrari therefore confirms the good impressions aroused during the first winter outings: together with Red Bull it is the team that has best reduced the problem of hopping caused by ground effect, is fast in tight corners and gives excellent guarantees of reliability. There is only a small but: as predicted by Leclerc, there still seems to be a margin of delay against Red Bull, which on the Sakhir circuit, for what we have seen so far, is less than a tenth, while the Mercedes appears far away: George Russell closed with the fourth fastest time, but more than half a second behind Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton fell into a ninth position that will not let him sleep peacefully. On the night before qualifying, many times the Mercedes technicians have accustomed us to impossible recoveries, but a gap of 1 ” 2 has structural origins and cannot be resolved in such a short time.
The promoters of the day: in addition to the leading trio, Fernando Alonso did very well on the Alpine (5th) and Mick Schumacher and Magnussen with the Haas. To review the seventh place of Sergio Perez (too much a second behind his teammate, even if his name is Verstappen) and a late McLaren, with Lando Norris 11th and Daniel Ricciardo 18th.
Tomorrow (Saturday) Formula 1 returns to the track at 3 pm for the third free practice session and, above all, for qualifying, when the 20 single-seaters will race in identical conditions: minimum fuel load and maximum power: it is up for grabs the first pole position of a very long season.
The program: Saturday at 13 free practice, 16 at qualifying; Sunday at 4 pm race.