The 2023 Formula 1 season kicked off with two practice sessions on Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit. The drivers faced different track conditions in each session, with FP1 taking place in daylight and FP2 under floodlights.

In FP1, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set the fastest lap of 1:29.672, beating Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso by 0.125 seconds. The Mexican driver showed strong pace on both soft and medium tyres, while Alonso impressed on his return to F1 after a two-year hiatus. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was third fastest, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

The session was interrupted by two red flags, one caused by a spin from Haas rookie Mick Schumacher and another by a brake fire on Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo. Both drivers were able to resume running later on.

In FP2, Hamilton bounced back to top the timesheets with a lap of 1:28.971, edging out Perez by 0.092 seconds. The seven-time world champion looked more comfortable on the soft tyres in cooler conditions, while Perez continued to show consistent speed on both compounds. Alonso was third fastest again, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

The session was relatively clean, with only a few minor incidents such as spins from Norris and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and a lock-up from Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes). The drivers also practiced their race simulations and pit stops ahead of Sunday’s grand prix.

The first two practice sessions suggested that Red Bull and Aston Martin could challenge Mercedes for the title this year, while Ferrari and Alpine also showed signs of improvement from last season. However, the pecking order could change in qualifying and the race as teams fine-tune their setups and strategies