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Red Bull weakness found as Alonso rolls back years – What we learned in Bahrain GP Friday practice

Red Bull weakness found as Alonso rolls back years – What we learned in Bahrain GP Friday practice

F1 News

Red Bull weakness found as Alonso rolls back years – What we learned in Bahrain GP Friday practice

Red Bull weakness found as Alonso rolls back years – What we learned in Bahrain GP Friday practice

The F1 season is underway in spectacular circumstances with Fernando Alonso the fastest after the opening day's practice sessions.

Alonso finished Bahrain Grand Prix second practice almost two-tenths faster than Max Verstappen as Aston Martin caught the eye.

With teams running in relative anger for the first time with new machinery, what did we learn from day one of the new campaign?

Aston Martin pace is genuine

There was optimism brewing at Aston Martin even before pre-season testing but headline times last week seemed to good to be true.

But Alonso's stunning effort to finish atop the leaderboard in FP2 underlines the AMR23's pace.

How true the pace is in comparison to Red Bull and Ferrari by the time qualifying finishes remains to be seen, but having fought to the end of the season last year just to finish seventh in the standings, a worst-case outcome of third fastest team looks mighty fine.

Red Bull not bulletproof

By no means a time to panic for Red Bull but there were small issues on the opening day of the year.

Verstappen was complaining about his RB19 'jumping around a lot', which is not the most comfortable feeling for a driver knowing he has to put full faith in his machinery when posting a flying lap.

The car will still be favourite to take pole position, but the Aston Martin pace will be a cause for at least some concern.

Ferrari and Mercedes in trouble?

Ferrari looks like it is yet to show its hand in its entirety as of yet, with the margin between Charles Leclerc and Red Bull some three-tenths.

But if that is all the SF-23 has to offer, it is hard to see Ferrari being in the fight with Red Bull in the opening stages of the season.

Rear wing issues cost valuable lap time and Carlos Sainz's spin proved the car is not the easiest to control, the Spaniard's confidence no doubt dented early on.

For Mercedes, the day's reading is worse with Lewis Hamilton down in eighth and George Russell 13th with the W14 showing little in the way of performance.

What did the team learn? Hamilton revealed 'we are way off'.

Alpine keeping cards close to chest?

Alpine were suggested as the best of the rest ahead of pre-season testing yet times across those three days were far from exciting.

Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were well adrift in FP1 running a slightly different run plan in unrepresentative conditions, so guesses as to where the French manufacturer slotted into the early pecking order were hard to make.

But Gasly's effort in FP2 was good enough for seventh, indicating there is performance to be found in the A523. Whether that comes quickly enough to establish its place at the top of the midfield? Saturday will deliver the answer.

Stroll not 100 per cent

Lance Stroll was the story of testing having missed out on running following his pre-season cycling crash in Spain.

The Canadian has now revealed he broke both wrists in the accident and underwent successful surgery before returning to the cockpit this weekend.

Whilst sixth in both sessions represent respectable efforts given his lack of time in the car, concerns will have risen at Aston Martin with footage of Stroll struggling to wind lock into the steering column at turn one late in FP2.

Can Stroll make it through the weekend? Felipe Drugovich is on standby should he be needed.

READ MORE: F1 is for everyone – stop gatekeeping and make room for all

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