The opening round of the record-breaking 23-race 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, starting with Sunday’s 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix, kicked off on Friday with practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg ran identical plans in FP1 – both drivers utilizing two new sets of Pirelli’s P Zero Red soft tires during the 60-minute afternoon session. Each driver commenced their track runs in the VF-23 with an installation lap followed by a baseline run on the softs.
Magnussen clocked a 1:35.420 with Hulkenberg posting a 1:35.865. Bolting on their second set of tires, Magnussen improved his fastest lap time by the checkered to a 1:34.402 (P7) while Hulkenberg logged a best tour of 1:35.043 (P14).
With the floodlights powered on around the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn track, FP2 got underway at 18:00 local time – Magnussen and Hulkenberg starting the evening session on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium rubber. A switch to new softs followed for their respective qualifying sims – Hulkenberg setting a fast lap of 1:31.376 placing the German P5 on the timesheet, Magnussen taking P16 – the Dane with a best lap of 1:32.110.
A lengthy set-up change on his VF-23 kept Magnussen in the garage before a final shortened high-fuel stint returning on the medium compound. Hulkenberg wrapped up with a high-fuel distance run utilizing both his sets of the medium and soft rubber.
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team ran a total of 85 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 47 by Hulkenberg and 38 by Magnussen.
“FP1 was looking pretty good for us, we’ve been testing quite a bit today and we’ll put it together tomorrow. Some of the things the team have been working on between the test and now, we’ve tried them out and got a few answers. There’s a lot more to try – it was only two practice sessions – but I think we’re in a decent spot. I don’t want to jinx anything, but as usual, it will be very close, and it could be anything.”
“One lap pace is fun but if this is where we are come Sunday, that’s where the gold is, that’s where it matters. That’s where we still have a lot of work to do and some homework – to find pace and work on degradation. It’s going to be difficult but it’s the same for everyone, we need to come up with the best compromise set-up for one lap and for the race. Overall, it’s been a good Friday with things to take away to build on and progress.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Everything we learned at the test, today we could use. For FP1 we went out and made some set-up changes while continuing to learn. In FP2, which is obviously closer to the conditions we’ll have in qualifying, Nico did a very good job and Kevin worked around some further set-up changes, and I think there is more to come from him tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a good day, but all-in-all we’re making good progress in learning about the car – the car is very reliable, which is a plus.”