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The five winners from 2023 pre-season F1 testing

Pre-season testing is in the books for 2023, and RacingNews365.com has been taking a look at five of the big winners from the action in Bahrain.

And breathe. Three days of action in Bahrain have concluded, with pre-season testing revealing some early Formula 1 clues about how 2023 could stack up. Max Verstappen, Zhou Guanyu and Sergio Perez topped each day respectively as title favourites were cemented, the midfield had a surprise new front-runner and one team faced problem after problem. Here, RacingNews365.com rounds up the five winners from 2023 pre-season testing, starting with the World Champion.

Max Verstappen

Verstappen is the only driver on this list, and for good reason. It was a crushing display from the two-time champion, who hardly broke sweat throughout, save for a minor oil leak costing some time on the second day. It is already abundantly clear that the 2023 championship is his to lose and, with a car and team moulded to him, it is a question of when, not if, even before the season has started. Ferrari look to be a step behind and Mercedes had a tricky test. That's four of Verstappen's title threats well behind where the RB19 stands and, as for the fifth, he will clearly have the marker of Sergio Perez. Formula 1 is now firmly in the Max Verstappen era.

Red Bull

Cast your minds back to 2015 and 2016 pre-season testing. This was when Mercedes were quite clearly better than all the rest and could turn up and do pit-stop practice on the opening day of testing while others fumbled about trying to get the car moving. Bahrain was something similar, if not quite the same with Red Bull firmly in a class of one. This is a team purring and firing on all-cylinders. The tech department is working at its highest-ever level, the power unit is impeccable and the drivers compliment each other. Put simply, there are no questions, no doubts, no threats this team must navigate in the early stages of 2023. It might not be as dominant as in 2022 – as seasons like that generally come about once and only once – but something catastrophic will need to happen if a sixth Red Bull logo is not added to the Constructors' trophy come December.

Aston Martin

Claims that the Aston Martin is just a 'Green Red Bull' are wide of the mark. Sure, the sidepod inlets do look rather Milton Keynes-ish, but the AMR23 is a well-rounded package, designed by a former Adrian Newey lieutenant in Dan Fallows. And in Fernando Alonso's hands, it looks quick. Very quick. This is the giant step forward the team were looking to take to challenge the upper midfield and begin to nibble away at the top three. Based on testing, they are close to Mercedes, who suffered badly with a torrid Day 2 in Sakhir. With a revved up Alonso at the wheel wanting to prove a point to Alpine, a fast start to the season is number two on the priority list after deciding who will drive Lance Stroll's car if, as expected, he is not fit. One name floated and which boss Mike Krack refused to rule out? A certain Sebastian Vettel...

Ferrari

A lot of noise surrounded Ferrari over the winter with their high profile team boss change, as Frederic Vasseur came in to replace Mattia Binotto. What the team needed was a quiet, sensible test without either driver throwing the car at the barrier or any failures. Indeed, the highlight of Ferrari's week came on the opening morning when their nose sprouted a dimple at high speed. That is as about as entertaining as things got. And that was ideal. Between them, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz got through 416 laps, third of any team without any headline hitting. In all likelihood, the team are still a step behind where Red Bull are, but the foundation of the good ship Maranello appears to be steady and the shakes of 2022 gone. Time will tell and when the team are pressured into a make-or-break strategy call, that will be the ultimate test. But for now, the Tifosi can sleep comfortably.

Haas

In writing off 2021, Haas boss Guenther Steiner said it was to ensure the team were in a much better position to be midfield contenders for the new regulations of 2022. That proved true as they bounced back into midfield respectability and, based on what was seen in Sakhir, Haas appear to be there or thereabouts. The VF-23 proved a stable platform for shrewd midfield operators Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. The team appear to have broken free of the clutches of the so-called 'Class C' stragglers at the very back and hauled themselves up. That, whichever way you look at it, is a success.

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