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Foto: Mark Thompson / Getty Images Europe / Expressen Lifestyle
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Foto: Clive Mason / Getty Images Europe

Scott Mitchell: Topp 5 dag 1

Formula 1 pre-season testing has started with a familiar feeling: Max Verstappen and Red Bull on top.

Scott Mitchell-Malm

The first day of the Bahrain test passed without any blockbuster, headline-grabbing moments. But there were a lot of lessons learned from the teams, which achieved a huge amount of mileage, and some for us watching trackside as well.

1. Red Bull’s perfect day

We had not seen the real Red Bull RB19 before today so its reveal in the pitlane shortly before the test start was one of the big moments.
It is a bit surprising to some people that the car does not look drastically different to last year. But stable rules mean most cars are only an evolution, and for Red Bull this means finding small ways to make the best car of 2022 even better.
On first review, it has worked. Red Bull and Verstappen have had a perfect day – the fastest lap time, high mileage, no obvious reliability problems and a car that looks very good on track.

2. Alonso’s serious lap

Fernando Alonso being so close to Verstappen is not that much of a shock despite how far behind Aston Martin was last season. It is testing, after all, so different fuel loads are in play.
But there is something about Alonso’s lap that really stands out. It’s almost identical to the fastest Aston Martin lap time in qualifying last year.
Given most teams were a long way off their 2022 qualifying pace, this is a real anomaly from Alonso. But having watched trackside it’s not hugely surprising because he was clearly pushing very hard.
Perhaps it was a consequence of playing catch-up: Aston Martin had a bad start to the day with an electrical issue for Felipe Drugovich and then Alonso had some floor damage to repair in the afternoon.

3. Bouncing is back (sort of)

There was no major porpoising of note as the big aerodynamic phenomenon of 2022 seems to be largely under control.
But there was some aggressive bouncing, notably on the Alpine, although others seemed to struggle to deal with some nasty bumps on the entry to Turn 1 and also Turn 10.
These cars have to run very low and stiff to maximise the ground-effect aero. That is what triggered the porpoising last year but it also makes the ride quality poor and it looks like that is going to be the same again this year.

4. Slow start of McLaren

Last year McLaren’s test in Bahrain was wrecked by brake cooling problems. This test has not had the same headline drama, but it has been a slow start.
There were glimpses of some sad-looking faces in the garage throughout the day and the MCL60 never looked particularly stunning on track.
McLaren warned at its car launch that it quickly needs some upgrades to be as competitive as it wants to be, and on this early evidence that looks like a fair assessment.

5. What’s going on with Stroll?

One of the weirdest things from testing so far is the way Lance Stroll’s absence is being handled.
Stroll’s injured his wrist (and maybe other parts of his body) in a cycling accident while training. He’s missing the test and there’s at least a chance he’ll miss next week’s race.
Aston Martin has been quite secretive about this. It will not even commit to a testing schedule for the rest of the week yet and there is a feeling Aston Martin is withholding more than it needs to.
Drugovich drove on Thursday morning and remains on standby but Alonso will do a full day on Friday.