Red Bull, winter champion while Sainz leaves sparkles

Verstappen leads the last test session in Bahrain with a great car. Sainz, third, leaves flashes with the Ferrari. A lot of work from Alonso (9th).


After three days of testing in Bahrain, there are more new unknowns than cleared. Times are unreliable, fuel loads are unknown and crews are trying to hide. If anything, an evidence: the Red Bull RB16B is the great reference for now, the winter champion, and in the hands of Verstappen it becomes a contender for everything this season. The Dutchman led the two days of practice in which he participated, the last this Sunday, and signed the fastest lap without resorting to the Pirelli ultrasoft compound, which is only used on urban circuits. Also Checo Pérez, new to the garage, left very good feelings and times.

In contrast to Mad Max is an erratic Hamilton at the wheel of a Mercedes W12 that does not quite look like that, a Mercedes. The Briton did mount the 'C5' tire but not only did he not come close, but he also made rookie mistakes like his spin when starting a lap. On Saturday it ended up on the gravel. Nobody will believe anything, it is very possible that the black car will win the Bahrain GP in two weeks, squandering superiority, but the tests have not been smooth in the garage and that is unquestionable. Reliability problems, constant oversteer ... are not faked. Although for breakdowns those of Aston Martin, which punished the mileage of Vettel and Stroll.

Sainz and Ferrari convince

For Spanish interests, Carlos Sainz leaves flashes of quality with the third best time of the weekend, overcoming slight problems in the change that limited his laps in this last session. The Madrilenian stayed 0.6 behind Red Bull with his Ferrari SF21, it seems too much. But there are still tenths of adaptation left, those that Verstappen has left over. Without forgetting that the chronometer is deceiving and in the desert of Bahrain there are mirages. Also scares: he almost collided with Raikkonen in the last moment of testing (the Finn stood out with the fourth time for Alfa Romeo, another team that makes a lot of progress).

An impressive 20-year-old Yuki Tsunoda, who has yet to make his F1 debut, slipped in front of Sainz. Although what really impresses is its Alpha Tauri AT02, an aggressive car to the extreme with a 'rake' to the limit (the angle of inclination of the car forward). The Faenza box wins the revelation award with that avant-garde design, although it was disputed with the McLaren Mercedes and its advanced diffuser. Ricciardo is feared because a lot is expected from the MCL35M, or at least that's what the people in the paddock, especially the rivals, say.

And Fernando Alonso? Chipping stone, silently, without stopping rolling but without making serious attempts at fast lap, at least in public. The Spaniard touched 80 laps in half a session (in the morning Ocon did 61) and finished with the ninth time riding the Pirelli C4. He did it in the middle of the batch, before the rest, impossible to compare with precision. In any case, the sensations at the foot of the track describe a great Alpine A521 capable of fighting against the usual suspects in the middle zone. There is Ferrari too, along with it. No Red Bull, those have already escaped to the point of unsettling Mercedes. But of course, they are only tests ...

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