Thursday morning's pre-season testing session was cut short at the Bahrain International Circuit after and ran over and dislodged a section of kerb.

The root cause of the issue was a loose drain cover under the Turn 11 curve. Leclerc drove directly over the cover leading to damage to the floor of his Ferrari car.

This drain cover was then passed over again by Hamilton, although the Mercedes driver only placed a wheel over the loose kerb, rather than the underbody of his W15, and therefore avoided more significant damage.

With just over two hours of the morning session completed, the stewards opted to bring out the red flag, but after over 30 minutes under those conditions, the decision was made to bring it to an early close.

With each driver on the grid getting just 12 hours of track time across the three days of the pre-season test, this was an extremely unwelcomed development, although the FIA did opt to extend the afternoon session by one hour to mitigate some of the time lost to the red flag.

Hamilton may have picked up some damage from the drain cover incident, but the Mercedes star completed the second-most laps (39) of any driver in the field in the morning with only VCARB's Yuki Tsunoda (40) completing more.

Leclerc ended the morning session with 36 laps to his name, while nine of the ten drivers surpassed the 30-lap marker. The real loser from Thursday's first outing was Sergio Perez, who completed a mere 20 trips around the Sakhir International Circuit.

The Mexican suffered a brake disc fire during the early stages of the session, forcing him to remain in the garage for the majority of the first hour before finally enjoying his first on-track running of the week.

Red Bull opted to give Max Verstappen all of the opening day to stretch his legs in Bahrain with the reigning world champion completing 142 laps and punching in a fastest time that was over 1.1 seconds faster than nearest rival Lando Norris.

The team from Milton Keynes will hope that their day-two struggles will not stunt their momentum after what was an excellent debut session for the RB20 on Wednesday.

2024-02-22T10:19:38Z dg43tfdfdgfd