By Robert Haile
As the Formula One world descended on the Bahrain International Circuit for three days preseason testing the first day has thrown up a few surprises.
If testing a new car is not hard enough for the drivers and teams the Bahrain weather decided to throw in a sandstorm to mix things up.
Mercedes driver and seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton said: I’ve never seen a sandstorm come through here before in all the years that I’ve driven at this circuit. The sand was moving like rain would move.
“Having sand on the tyres isn’t good for their longevity and getting consistency on long runs is difficult. Over a single lap it isn’t the worst, but you need lots of laps at this time of year to get data.”
Reliability problems for Mercedes.
The Mercedes team have been dominant over the last two years with a loosening towards the end of the last season.
Valtteri Bottas, teammate of Hamilton, only managed 6 laps in his session due to a gearshift problem.
Speaking about the issue Bottas said: The whole team was looking forward to getting on track but on the install lap we noticed an issue with the gearbox so we had to localise the problem and change the gearbox which takes quite a bit of time.
“Only at the end of the morning session could we get back out for a few more laps before the red flag. A total of six laps for me, all with aero rakes on the car so not much running today and not an ideal start.”
Even though it was the first day with a sandstorm the pace of the cars show it could be a interesting season.
Max Verstappen leads the way for Red Bull with McLaren’s Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon of Alpine making up the top three.
In the top ten there was only one Ferrari and Mercedes while Red Bull only ran one car on day one.
Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and both Alpha Tauri made up the top ten.
With another two days of testing to go what will the we learn about the up coming season.