Miguel A. Herguedas

Updated Wednesday, February 21, 2024-18:04

  • Aston Martin The technical keys to Alonso's AMR-24

Max Verstappen

met the expectations that the RB20 had raised during its presentation and dominated the first day of official testing in Bahrain, where he led both the time table (1:31.344) and the lap table (143). The three-time world champion gave his rivals no option throughout the eight hours of the day, while

Fernando Alonso

met the objectives set by Aston Martin, lapping more than anyone else during the morning session (77 laps).

Under the heat of the desert, with 35ºC from the first hour, the preseason started in Sakhir under premises very similar to those at the end of the last World Cup. The 10 teams mounted sensor grills on their cars in search of the first data and bathed their wings with paraffin for the relevant aerodynamic tests.

After the first half hour, Alonso stood out in the lead thanks to a lap (1:33.385) in which he lifted his foot in the last meters. Immediately, Verstappen took the lead from him, scratching three tenths, while

Charles Leclerc

made Ferrari's power felt (1:33.247). Mercedes, for its part, had to regret a problem in the hybrid system that kept

George Russell

stranded for two hours in the garage.

Ocon runway departure

On the C3 tires, Pirelli's softest compound, even Verstappen seemed to struggle with his car. The biggest scare would be

Esteban Ocon

, with a chilling exit from the track that fortunately did not cause him any damage. As the clock advanced, the RB20 began to show its formidable stability in long runs, with a terrifying dominance in the second sector, Shakir's most twisty.

Before the break,

Alex Albon

left his Williams stranded due to a breakdown in the fuel pump, the exception on a day marked by the reliability of the mechanics. Those accumulated kilometers were the best news for Aston Martin and Alonso, who in the afternoon gave way to

Lance Stroll


Ferrari also exchanged its drivers and

Carlos Sainz

was the first to hit the asphalt after lunch. The Madrid native completed the job without major setbacks, with 69 laps (five more than Leclerc) and allowed himself a joy (1:32.584), which only made him give ground to Verstappen and

Lando Norris

, again the McLaren reference.

The Mercedes Y250

In any case, Adrian Newey

's latest creation

for Red Bull once again left the competition without a response. Not only because Verstappen used the soft compound to lead with just over a second over the rest (1:31.344), but also because of the race simulations with the hard rubber, where the Dutchman showed a terrifying regularity, always around 1: 36.3.

Even far from the lead, Mercedes knew how to resolve Russell's incidents to consolidate itself as the other reference. The Y250 front wing designed by

James Allison

, a solution as spectacular as it was radical, attracted the attention of photographers as much as the RB20. Finally, Stroll polished Alonso's time, showing the potential of the AMR-24, with those side pontoons that seem to have so captivated the experts.