Bahrain GP: Perez leads Alonso in Practice 1

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Sergio Perez set the fastest time in the first practice session of the new Formula 1 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mexican driver clocked an impressive 1m32.758s on the soft tyre just before the halfway point, finishing four-tenths clear of Fernando Alonso.

Plenty of eyes are on the Spaniard after a strong pre-season test in the Aston Martin, and he continued the hype by moving up to second with 10 minutes to go also on the soft compound.

Reigning champion Max Verstappen was third in the second Red Bull, six-tenths behind Perez despite setting his time just moments after his teammate.

While expectations are low at McLaren, Lando Norris claimed fourth suggesting there is some inherent pace in the MCL60.

Charles Leclerc was the highest-placed Ferrari in fifth as the Scuderia opted not to run the soft tyre in the unrepresentative daytime conditions.

But there was a scare for teammate Carlos Sainz, who had a high-speed spin approaching Turn 10 after going a little wide on entry and destroyed his tyres in the process.

Making his return after missing the pre-season test with a wrist injury, Lance Stroll put in a solid effort to finish sixth despite missing more track time due to an ignition issue in the Aston Martin.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas, ahead of the two Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas.

Like Ferrari, Mercedes also chose to only use medium tyres in FP1 as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell sat 10th and 11th.

McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri had a small off at Turn 6 early on but continued to finish 12th. Yuki Tsunoda was 13th, in front of Nico Hulkenberg on his return to F1 at Haas.

Alpine continues to keep their powder very dry as Esteban Ocon was 15th and Pierre Gasly 17th, either side of Nyck De Vries' AlphaTauri.

Logan Sargeant reported burning from his Williams but still led teammate Alex Albon in 18th and 19th.

Sainz's spin saw him bring up the timing sheet for Ferrari.

Another session with few answers as to the true pecking order to begin the 2023 F1 season, but more may become known in Practice 2 under the lights later on Friday.