Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz got through all the planned programme in Friday free practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first race of the 2023 World Championship. Between them, the two drivers racked up 92 laps in their SF-23s, preparing for tomorrow’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, both of which get underway at 18 (16 CET).
FP1. In the first session, both drivers only used Medium tyres, starting off each trying a different specification of rear wing for comparison purposes. After the first run, Charles’ car was switched to the same wing as Carlos, who took on a new set of Mediums. But he had a spin and therefore had to come in to change tyres once again. At this point, Charles set his best time of 1’34”257, while Carlos had to settle for the 1’36”072 he secured on his first set of tyres, because from then on, both drivers ran with a heavier fuel load. 17 laps for Leclerc, 21 for Sainz.
FP2. In this session, both drivers started on the Soft tyre to make the most of running in the same track conditions they should experience tomorrow in qualifying. Charles stopped the clocks in 1’31”367 and Carlos did a 1’31”956, despite a slight slip-up. They then spent the rest of the session in race configuration. Leclerc did 26 laps and Sainz 28. Prior to tomorrow’s qualifying, there is one more free practice session at 14.30 (12.30 CET).
‘Our first day of free practice went OK. We completed a lot of laps and I feel more and more comfortable in the car, which is positive. It is still difficult to tell where we stand as everyone seems to have been running very different plans, but we are focusing on ourselves and will keep pushing in the right direction.’
‘A trickier Friday than we initially expected. The balance was different and we were changing the car through the sessions to try and correct its main limitations. It’s only Friday and I’m confident we can analyse everything overnight and take a step forward tomorrow.’