Charles Leclerc tops timesheets on final day of Formula pre-season testing

Charles Leclerc tops timesheets on final day of Formula pre-season testing

Formula One pre-season testing came to a close in Bahrain on Friday with Charles Leclerc topping the times.

The Ferrari driver got the better of overwhelming championship favourite Max Verstappen, among others, on a second successive day in which running had to be red flagged because of a loose drain cover.

It again happened at turn 11, just a few metres further on from where both Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton had had issues the previous day. This time, it was Sergio Perez’s Red Bull which loosened the drain cover.

After a lengthy delay for repairs, testing was then extended until 7pm local time (4pm GMT) with no lunch break.

Some drivers, most vocally Fernando Alonso, have been critical of the reduced amount of testing going into the 2024 season – essentially just six hours behind the wheel of the car per driver.

The latest delay is unlikely to help quieten critics of the diminished F1 testing going into what is a marathon 24-race season.

As had been the case during Thursday afternoon, Carlos Sainz was again the fastest man on the track in the early running before the red flag only to be usurped by teammate Charles Leclerc.

The final of three days of testing were largely uneventful, however. Verstappen and Red Bull look formidable once more in terms of race pace as the Dutchman bids for a quartet of world titles.

But the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes - George Russell ended the final testing day second fastest - are looking both quick and reliable, although currently a step back behind the frontrunners.