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Verstappen Back on Top as F1 Starts Testing in Bahrain

As Formula One got underway with pre-season testing in Bahrain on Wednesday, triple world champion Max Verstappen ensured that everything continued as normal despite the uncertainty surrounding Christian Horner, the manager of his Red Bull team.

With a lap quicker than the quickest attempt on the opening day at the same Sakhir track last year, the 26-year-old Dutch driver—who won a record 19 of 22 races—topped the morning session.

Compared to 1:32.837 the previous year, he completed the task in one minute and 32.548 seconds in the early sunshine.

The last driver to close to Verstappen in terms of time was Fernando Alonso, driving for Aston Martin, and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari in second place. Oscar Piastri, an Australian, finished the McLaren lap in fourth place.

The season starts in Bahrain on March 2.

Although testing times do not amount to much, with teams working through their own programmes with different priorities, the Red Bull RB20 looked an impressive and aggressive evolution of the car that won all but one race last year.

Verstappen looked composed and smooth at the wheel as he completed 65 laps — more than a race distance at the desert circuit.

Horner, who has denied allegations of inappropriate behaviour levelled against him by a female employee, was attending testing and said at last week’s launch that he was working as normal.

Williams driver Alex Albon was the only driver to experience a notable problem, stopping his car on track with 21 minutes remaining of the first session.

Mercedes had George Russell in the car, whose front wing gained plenty of attention, and the Briton lapped sixth quickest.

Team boss Toto Wolff said the mood in the team was positive, with Mercedes putting the emphasis on creating a stable platform for development and spending time making changes to the car in the garage.

“We had a filming day yesterday and then some aero running this morning with no relevant lap times,” added the Austrian. “So far the feedback from the drivers was yes, this is something we can start to work with and that is encouraging.”

Teams have just three days of testing before the season starts next week.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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