BAHRAIN, Feb 22 ― Ferrari's Carlos Sainz set the fastest time in Formula One testing yesterday, delivering a timely reminder of his talents ahead of his final season with the Italian giants.

Sainz, who will lose his seat to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at the end of 2024, clocked a best time of 1min 29.921sec on the Sakhir circuit.

Sergio Perez, taking over from defending champion Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, was 0.758sec behind with Hamilton third fastest, more than a second off the pace in his Mercedes.


The morning session of testing came to an early halt when a drain cover on the track became loose.

Both Hamilton and Charles Leclerc hit the cover with the Ferrari of the Monegasque driver damaged to the extent that it needed a new floor.

The incident brought back painful memories for Ferrari. In Las Vegas last season, a manhole cover badly damaged the car of Sainz.


Meanwhile, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner refused to discuss the ongoing investigation into claims that he displayed “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague.

Horner, 50, has categorically denied the accusation while Formula One chiefs said they want the issue resolved at the “earliest opportunity”.

“As you are well aware there is a process going on which I form part of, and as I form part of that process, I am afraid I cannot comment on it,” Horner told reporters at a media conference.

Asked if there was a timeline for the investigation to be completed, he added: “I'm dreadfully sorry but I really can't comment on the process or the timescale.

“I think obviously everybody would like a conclusion as soon as possible, but I'm really not at liberty to comment about the process.”

The new F1 season, which will feature a record 24 races, gets underway at the same Bahrain circuit on March 2.

Testing times on Thursday:

1. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) 1min 29.921sec (84 laps), 2. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) +0.758 (129), 3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) +1.145 (123), 4. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren) +1.335 (52), 5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Racing Bulls) +1.440 (88), 6. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) +1.829 (54), 7. Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin) +2.108 (96), 8. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine) +2.140 (78), 9. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Sauber) +2.306 (97), 10. Oscar Piastri (AUS/McLaren) +2.407 (35), 11. Logan Sargeant (USA/Williams) +2.657 (117), 12. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Aston Martin) +3.132 (31), 13. Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Sauber) +3.794 (38), 14. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Alpine) +3.883 (33), 15. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas) +6.690 (93), 16. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Haas) +7.588 (31), 17. Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/Racing Bulls) +8.153 (40) ― AFP