All eyes on Red Bull again!

Formula 1 is back! In Bahrain this Wednesday, all ten new Formula 1 cars will come together for the first time to take part in the first of three days of testing on the Sachir circuit.

Mercedes driver George Russell officially opened the year when he became the first driver to take to the track in his W15 at 10am local time sharp – in perfect sunny testing conditions (unlike Formula 2 last week, which had to contend with rain) .

Accordingly, all racing teams had the opportunity to try out the basic functions of their further developments. The times may have played a minor role on Wednesday, but they certainly presented a picture that fans will have seen in something similar as early as 2023: a Red Bull in front of a Ferrari in front of an Aston Martin and a McLaren.

Because just as the old year ended, the new year begins: with a best time from Max Verstappen. The Dutchman needed 1:32.548 minutes to complete one lap around the course. However, he was almost three seconds slower than last year’s pole time, so a meaningful ranking cannot yet be assumed.

In addition, the Red Bull driver’s time would probably not have counted in the real qualifying because he exceeded the track limits in Turn 4.

Second was Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari, 0.699 seconds behind the three-time world champion. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin/+0.837) came third ahead of Oscar Piastri (McLaren/+1.110) and Yuki Tsunoda (Racing Bulls/+1.588).

Verstappen completed 66 laps without any problems, the third most of all drivers after Alonso (77) and Valtteri Bottas (7th/Sauber/68).

Red Bull surprises with air intake

The most interesting thing was the look at the new cars for the 2024 Formula 1 season. Red Bull in particular caused a stir with its design. When the RB20 was launched, there was a lot of focus on the sidepod, and now many people were discussing the new intakes in front of it.

Because Red Bull has now installed two different inlets on the car. One of them is a thin vertical side channel, very similar to the one in the presentation.

However, the main inlet is now clearly under the overbite, which looks a bit like the mouth of a stingray. The vertical channel along the side of the chassis is reminiscent of the bypass channel used by Ferrari since the start of last season.

You also had to take a closer look at another inlet, which is located in front of the cockpit in some vehicles. This is a new cooling intake that was made in response to the heat race in Qatar last year.

This is intended to cool drivers in hot conditions, but can also be swapped for a version without an inlet, so neither team has an advantage.

Problems at Mercedes, Williams and Haas

In general, the test morning went without any major problems, as a red flag did not have to be raised once, which speaks for a smooth process. Around 20 minutes before the end of the session, however, Alexander Albon rolled over in the Williams and had to be pushed away by the marshals – but this happened under yellow.

One or two teams also had teething problems and had to stay in the garage for a long time.

Mercedes, for example, didn’t really get going and had to take a break for more than an hour. auto motor und sport reports a problem with the hybrid system. Towards the end of the session Russell was able to get involved again, but only finished sixth, 1.7 seconds behind.

With 48 laps he drove the second fewest of all drivers, only Albon drove less, whose Williams failed after 40 laps.

Last came Kevin Magnussen in the Haas (66 laps/+3.144), who also spent around an hour in the garage. He suspected a problem with the fuel system. And Williams also had problems with the DRS at times.

In the afternoon there are another four hours on the agenda, which conclude the first day of testing in Bahrain. With the exception of Red Bull and Mercedes, all teams will compete with a different driver than in the morning. Nico Hülkenberg will also be taking part in the action for the first time. The test ends at 5 p.m. German time.

You can now get an initial analysis and assessment on the YouTube channel, where Kevin Scheuren and editor-in-chief Christian Nimmervoll discuss the most important topics of the first test morning.