We begin to get serious and some values are outlined, but there is still no established hierarchy. Aston Martin is the surprise of the day, given that Fernando Alonso is a candidate for pole position in the Bahrain GP, the opening race of the 2023 F1 world championship. The Spaniard has demonstrated in practice that the AMR23 is a reality to be taken into great consideration , because the “verdona” presented itself with a competitiveness threshold that put everyone in difficulty, including Red Bull
It is easy to predict that the Asturian clocked a 1’30″907 on soft tires being able to count on a rather strong Mercedes engine mapping, certainly more so than the official team’s Black Arrows. Fernando simulated qualifying, then dedicating himself to the long run on the softs, while teammate, Lance Stroll, sixth in the times, half a second behind his teammate, who made a duration on the mediums, a tire that could be excluded from the race.
Behind the Aston Martins, the two Red Bulls appear with Max Verstappen who has put the team hierarchies back in place: the world champion leaves 169 thousandths to Alonso, but is satisfied with 2 thousandths to stay ahead of a very consistent Sergio Perez. The Dutchman didn’t find the RB19 he had left in last week’s tests, but he impressed in the simulation of a piece of the race. The Milton Keynes team has found an enviable pace that makes both drivers competitive, with Alonso not far from the RB19s. Aston Martin makes an impression because at least at the beginning of the season they can immediately aspire to a place on the podium.
Charles Leclerc positions Ferrari in fourth place: the position does not disappoint so much as the gap. Looking at the times table, 460 thousandths of a second emerge, which is a lot, but the Cavalino fans don’t have to wrap their heads, because the Scuderia continues to stay covered. Charles, who again experienced an anomalous clutch release which was later resolved, had a 066/7 engine with still “deflated” mapping: just look at Nico Hulkenberg’s performance with the Haas to understand that the returning German driver he was able to taste the effective power of the Prancing Horse power unit to move up to fifth place, 9 thousandths behind the SF-23.
It is evident that the Ferraristi didn’t want to reveal their cards, reserving the right to come out only in qualifying. The Scuderia also gave good indications for the race pace, revealing a pace capable of performing well, a sign that the problems with tire wear were tackled by playing with heights and suspension set-ups.
Carlos Sainz, who had different mechanical settings, was more in crisis in the flying lap and in the end he is only 14th: the Madrilenian had to deal with a rather evident porpoising, a sign that the Maranello team had exaggerated in lowering the SF- 23.
We have already mentioned Lance Stroll, returning to F1 after breaking his wrist. Pierre Gasly emerged behind the Canadian and is discovering the Alpine. The Frenchman did well to settle down in front of the disappointing Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Pierre with a 1’31″475 put a furrow of four cars with teammate Esteban Ocon: the A523 looks better than the car we had seen in the tests. At Enstone they are churning out a series of interesting innovations and they will be to be kept in mind. ‘eye.
Mercedes does not impress: Hamilton leaves six tenths to Aston Martin with the same engine. It is possible that the engines of the Stella have also been kept to a prudent regime, but seeing Hamilton eighth and George Russell only 13th at almost a second testifies that the W14 has not yet found the path of competitiveness and in Brackley they will do well to try to bring the expected evolution as soon as possible.
The top 10 is completed by Lando Norris who is ninth with the McLaren NCL60: the Englishman did his best to settle the papaya 27 thousandths from Lewis’ W14. Right now it’s enough for Lando to stay in front of Oscar Piastri who proceeds step by step and settles for 15th place.
Guanyu Zhou is tenth with Alfa Romeo: the Chinese remains ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon slipped between the two with the second Alpine.
Kevin Magnussen who had set a time in FP1 was buttoned up in the afternoon and is in 16th place ahead of the Williams of Alexander Albon who did an interesting race simulation with the hard tyres. The Anglo-Thai left the American Logan Sargeant in last place, three tenths behind his more experienced companion. Not bad for a rookie who’s come a very short way.
The AlphaTauris disappoint: Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck Devries are suffering with the AT04 which was supposed to be a concrete step forward compared to last year and for now it doesn’t seem like much…
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