Miguel A. HerguedasSpecial Envoy Sakhir

Special Envoy Sakhir

Updated Thursday, February 29, 2024-14:11

The 2024 World Cup officially got underway in Sakhir, although no one would say it.

The first free practice sessions of the Bahrain GP left too many unknowns to make a definitive judgement, because neither Ferrari, nor Mercedes, nor Red Bull itself squeezed their cars in search of the times.

Neither did

Fernando Alonso

, although the Asturian, fifth in the table, left a good feeling with the medium tire (1:33.193).

Despite the mild temperature, around 18ºC, no one risked the start under the desert sun.

Not a single one of the favorites wanted to ride the soft tire with which Friday's qualifying session will be resolved.

In any case,

Max Verstappen

marked the territory of the C3 compound, with a notable advantage over Sergio Pérez, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Now it remains to be seen whether that ferocious pace should be attributed to a lower fuel load or a more aggressive engine configuration.

Charles Leclerc


Carlos Sainz

did not take unnecessary dangers either.

The man from Madrid had blocked arriving at the first corner, just like

George Russell


Lance Stroll

, so he would end up choosing to comply with the outlined program.

The 1:33.385, including the record from the last section, only served him to finish eleventh.

The Monegasque, for his part, admitted that it had not been "a great lap", while

Xavi Marcos

, his Spanish engineer, showed his general satisfaction: "we only lost a tenth in turn 11", she told him. he.

Record in the first sector

Alonso, as written, had started on the right foot, including the best time in the first sector (29.9).

After that attempt he spent many minutes inside the garage.

While the favorites resisted, the two-time world champion returned to the asphalt with just over 10 minutes remaining, riding the C2 compound, six tenths ahead of

Lance Stroll


The Canadian's complaints about the AMR24's instability in the first two corners spread throughout the



Even Verstappen lamented the harshness of his RB20 when he engaged lower gears.

"The car is literally jumping," lamented the three-time world champion.

His sixth final time, 45 thousandths behind Alonso, seems irrelevant.

Likewise, the final time table, led by

Daniel Ricciardo


Lando Norris


Oscar Piastri


Yuki Tsunoda

, must be considered anecdotal .

McLaren's potential

At the halfway point, McLaren decided to capture its share of the screen, using the soft tire before anyone else.

Zak Brown

's team

plays more at home here than in Woking, courtesy of a sovereign wealth fund held by the local monarchy, so Piastri (1:33.113) and Norris (1:32.901) took turns, showing some of the virtues of the MCL38, a car with undoubted potential, but that still needs to be put on track.

Also looking for flashes, Tsunoda and Ricciardo wore the beautiful Red Bulls livery, the old AlphaTauri, with an official name so strange that we will ignore it for reasons of space.

Under the watchful eye of two veterans like

Tim Goss


Alan Permane

, incorporated in recent weeks, Ricciardo assumed the lead (1:32.869) by 32 thousandths.

And he wouldn't let it go anymore.