F1 Pre-Season Testing – Day 1
The F1 season is back underway as all 10 teams and, only, 17 drivers took to the Bahrain International Circuit for pre-season testing to get their cars rubbered in and set for the upcoming racing season.
Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, was the first driver out on track as he beat other teams attempting to leave the pitlane for their installation laps. Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, was the first to set a timed lap of the season with a 1:37.481, on the Pirelli C2, white-stripped, tyres.
Understandably, teams ran with aerodynamic rakes in the first 10 minutes, and throughout the first pre-season test as they hunt for the loss of downforce which has been caused by the floor changes.
Sebastian Vettel, who moved from Scuderia over the winter break to Aston Martin, pipped Leclerc to the top of the timing board as he put in a 1:36.367, 1.114 seconds faster than his former Monegasque teammate.
Roy Nissany, Williams, overcooked his breaking point as the session reached its 40 minute mark. The Formula Two driver broke into turn one but went in too deep, exceeding the edge of the track in his wide line. This was similar for Mick Schumacher, Haas, five minutes later.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 12, 2021
Reliability issues at Mercedes already? The defending world champions erected the screens in their pit lane garage as they had an issue with the transmission and it prompted them to change their gearbox on the W12.
Verstappen nearly lost the RB16B as the first session came close to the hour mark. As the Dutch driver drove into the second turn, he suffered oversteer and the car snapped. Luckily, the Red Bull driver conducted his usual save and managed to avoid a collision with the barrier.
Although he earned the fastest lap, after an hour, Verstappen’s hot lap was hindered with a slight snap of oversteer which saw the Dutch driver put down the power late. However, he still managed to beat Esteban Ocon’s fastest lap, by over a second, after the French Alpine driver pipped Raikkonen to the top spot.
By the end of the 2 hour mark, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, posted the fastest lap time on the Bahrain circuit. But the Australian and Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri, traded the top spot after the Frenchman pipped Ricciardo, but the new McLaren driver put in a 1:32.203 to go top of the board.
It was also reported by Haas F1 on Twitter that Schumacher’s VF-21 suffered a hydraulic issue which required Haas to replace the gearbox.
With an hour and 20 minutes left to go, Vettel suffered problems as a marshal in the pitlane had to wave the first yellow flag of the season. The Aston Martin mechanics were forced into action as they ran down the pitlane to push the stranded AMR21 back to the garage.
Bottas finally returned to the track after a new gearbox was installed into his Mercedes. After he missed three hours of testing time, the W12 was equipped with an aero rake on the rear of his car and was only able to occupy P9 in the timing board. Schumacher also returned late on in the morning test, with less than 30 minutes to go.
With 10 minutes to go, Leclerc stopped on the entry of the turn four as he suffered a mechanical fault with his Ferrari. This prompted the first red flag of pre-season testing as the stranded car was pushed and guided off the track.
End of morning test
- Daniel Ricciardo – 1:32.203
- Pierre Gasly – 1:32.231 (+0.028)
- Max Verstappen – 1:32.245 (+0.042)
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 12, 2021
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Despite poor visibility, due to an incoming sandstorm in Bahrain, the afternoon test still went ahead as planned. Ocon became the field’s guinea pig as he was the first driver to clear the racing line of sand and Nikita Mazepin, Haas, followed suit.
The race line may have been cleaned by the any drivers such as Ferrari’s new recruit, Carlos Sainz and Nissany found out the track didn’t have much grip due to the sandstorm that fell over the circuit.
With three hours to go, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, embarked on his travels in first pre-season test as the seven-time world champion conducted a practice start at the end of the pitlane. With less than three hours, Hamilton’s stint in the W12 was crucial as Mercedes only had six laps in the morning’s test.
However, the defending world champion was only able to secure P16 in the poor conditions in his first flying laps. The knighted driver almost lost control of his car as he started to oversteer on the exit of the first corner as he attempted to push his car to the limits.
With less than two and a half hours to go until the end of the first day of testing, Verstappen regained his usual position in the top three after he pipped Ricciardo to the top of the timing board with a 1:31.412 lap.
Yuki Tsunoda, who had put in 20 laps, managed to beat his previous personal best as he climbed up to fourth – one place behind teammate, Gasly.
More laps than anyone else, fastest lap AND fastest sectors…
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 12, 2021
By the two hour mark, Verstappen quietly reached the 100 laps as the first driver to surpass the century mark in this years pre-season testing. While the Dutchman remained at the top of the timings for the half an hour that followed, Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Lando Norris (McLaren) occupied the final top three spots.
However, Hamilton started to put in personal best laps as he climbed up to ninth.
By the end of the first day, Verstappen topped the lap times with a 1:30.674 lap followed by Norris (second) and Ocon (third).
Whereas Mercedes ended a tricky day with reliability issues. Hamilton finished the first day of testing with a hybrid issue within his power-unit as the LED light above the air intake turned red – signalling the car was unsafe. When the seven-time champion returned to the garage his W12 was cordoned off as a mechanic looked to identify the fault inside the car.
End of first test
- Max Verstappen – 1:30.674, 138 laps
- Lando Norris – 1:30.889 (+0.215), 45 laps
- Esteban Ocon – 1:31.146 (+0.472), 128 laps
We hope you enjoyed F1 Pre-Season Testing – Day 1! What did you think of the first day of F1 testing? Let us know in the comments!
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