Formula 1 is back! Day One Highlights in Bahrain

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – FEBRUARY 21: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402210862 // Usage for editorial use only //

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The 2024 Formula 1 World Championship is off and running as teams converged for testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. With three days of running ahead of a record 24-race schedule, teams are pressed for time to find their stride with the latest batch of cars.

Red Bull sets the Gauntlet

Max Verstappen looked in prime form as he set the tone for testing. After Red Bull revealed an entirely revised car at the 2024 launch, rather than a standard livery reveal, questions immediately arose across social media as to whether aero-master Adrian Newey had lost his way, copying key components from rivals Mercedes and Ferrari 2023 designs. However, this was all for naught as Verstappen set the fastest lap of the day, a full 1.140 seconds clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Additionally, the RB-20 logged an impressive 143 laps over the 8-hour day and the squad seemed pleased with the early progress as Verstappen seemed on rails for much of the day. As with many things in testing, there is still little evidence that Red Bull will be ahead of the competition, but early results must certainly be putting pressure on everyone else.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – FEBRUARY 21: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402211031 // Usage for editorial use only //

RB’s VCARB01 surprises early, McLaren posed for success

With a new name, new livery, and new leadership following the departure of long-time team boss Franz Tost, many expected the RB team to be on the back foot coming into pre-season testing. However, Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo looked exceptionally comfortable on day 1 with strong lap times out of the garage for both drivers as the team had a record day of testing.

McLaren looked nothing like their 2023 version as the Woking squad turned 180 degrees from a testing filled with pain and dismay to one that looks to be extremely promising. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were quick to become comfortable with the all new MCL38 and ripped out 130 laps between them as both drivers put up consistent and confident lap times, being bested only by Verstappen.

Mercedes shows promise, questions still lingering

Day one of testing for the Silver Arrows started on a positive note with driver George Russell sharing that the new W15 was “nicer to drive than last year’s car” in the wake of a dismal 2023 campaign.

Covering 122 laps on the day, in spite of some delays in the garage, Russell was one of only two drivers to spend the entirety of day one in the car.

While the team is focused more on information gathering and data, versus overall performance and lap times, Russell echoed many team opinions that there was a positive foundation to start on as they look to compete for victories against the ever-strong Red Bull team.

Netflix effect

With Netflix’s hit series “Drive to Survive” set to launch its sixth season on Friday at the conclusion of testing, Formula 1 is primed for an explosive first round for the 2024 season. Crews will be onsite to capture content for the 2025 release as teams have the first ever back-to-back Saturday races to start out the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

With the start of Ramadan falling on Sunday, March 10th, the Saudi Grand Prix was move forward 24 hours to account for the religious event and therefore forced Bahrain promoters to move their event as well.

Check the below link for highlights and follow us for more Formula 1 content as testing continues through Friday, February 23rd.

VIDEO: Highlights from Day 1 in Bahrain