Max Verstappen and George Russell told off during press conference

F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, George Russell and Charles Leclerc were told off for talking during an official F1 press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The three drivers were caught on camera whispering and giggling just seconds before the chat began.

Journalist Tom Clarkson appeared to reprimand the stars as he began his line of questioning.

Journalist Tom Clarkson appeared to reprimand the stars as he began his line of questioning. He said: “Welcome back everybody to part two of the drivers’ press conference here in Bahrain.

“Now one of the advantages of everyone being on the sofa is we can’t stop you talking.” It comes after F1 changed the format of the press conferences which have been made slightly less formal for 2023.

The old policy of drivers sitting on individual chairs has been abandoned for the new season. Instead, F1’s stars are invited to sit on a simple white sofa where they can be more relaxed than in previous years.

The incident was not the only amusing moment from the first driver press conference of the season. New McLaren driver Oscar Piastri misheard Clarkson during a question over his year away from racing which led to a comical exchange between the pair.

Clarkson said: “You spent no time racing last year but did you do any karting to keep you sharp or long-distance racing?” Piastri responded: “Long-distance racing? I don’t know how you do that. Do you mean like sim racing?”

Clarkson added: “What did you do to keep yourself sharp?”

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Piastri replied: “Ah endurance racing sorry. I thought you meant a long-distance relationship race. I was really confused.” A common theme across the press conferences was Max Verstappen’s likely dominance in 2023.

The Dutchman was asked what parts of the car had improved from last year’s title-winning machine. Verstappen then silenced the opposition as he claimed the new RB19 was a step up from 2022.

He said: “Everywhere. That’s the aim I mean you always try and improve it. It feels nice, well balanced of course and every team of course lost a bit of performance with the floor but you always try and gain it back in a way.

“So you have to of course find a new balance with the car but it’s been good.” Mercedes star George Russell also suggested Red Bull were on top after the reigning champions enjoyed a trouble-free test last week.

He explained: “I think it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull are in a bit of a league of their own this weekend here in Bahrain.”

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