Ferrari Battles Even More Loose Drain Covers But Still Tops Final Day of F1 Testing

Hopefully the drain cover issues are solved before next weekend’s season-opening grand prix.

byJerry Perez|
F1 photo


Charles Leclerc and Ferrari delivered another strong performance Friday, concluding the final day of pre-season Formula 1 testing at the top of the board. The Monegasque driver threw down a 1:30.322, roughly 0.3 seconds faster than Sergio Perez's fastest lap on Thursday, despite dealing with the drain cover fiasco.


Originally scheduled to run for four hours, the morning session was red-flagged just 27 minutes after the green flag due to another drain cover issue. Sergio Perez reportedly ran over the top of it which made the cover loose. Upon further inspection, track officials announced that the Turn 11 drain cover had become dislodged—the same one that damaged Leclerc's Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes on Thursday.

Testing resumed after a one-hour delay, and track action continued through the end of the day as the lunch break was canceled. This marked the second consecutive day that testing had to stop due to drain covers becoming loose, something that's become more and more common since the Las Vegas GP last November. These types of issues have been around forever, of course, but the frequency is what seems to have ramped up recently.


George Russell drove 67 laps compared to Leclerc's 74, and he managed a lap time of 1:30.368—just 0.04 seconds behind the Ferrari. Hamilton also spent time behind the wheel Friday, though mostly focused on car setup.

Zhou Guanyu wrapped up the top three with a lap time of 1:30.647—about 0.3 seconds behind Leclerc. The Chinese driver managed a hefty 85 laps around the Bahrain International Circuit, though it was Alexander Albon who racked up the most laps Friday with 121. McLaren's Lando Norris and Sauber's Valtteri Bottas completed the least amount of laps, with 20 and 28 respectively. Williams' Logan Sargeant did not partake in the Friday test at all.

Everyone in the paddock is aware of Red Bull Racing's superiority, with two-time world champ Fernando Alonso making an interesting remark regarding their performance. He either meant to say that drivers already know that their chances of winning the championship are low to begin with, or that Verstappen already has the 2024 championship in the bag.

“I think Max is the world champion and Red Bull is dominating the sport. Also, the concept that they presented this year, it's also a surprise," Alonso told “At the moment, we just have to watch them and see how they perform."

“I think 19 drivers in the paddock now will think that [they] will not win the championship," he added.

With the season's first grand prix kicking off in exactly seven days, it'll be interesting to see who made the most progress during these three days of pre-season testing—and how much it really matters when the lights go out.

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