FP1 & FP2 - Bahrain GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

26 March 2021 - 18:42
FP1 & FP2 - Bahrain GP 2021 - (...)

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“It’s been a good day again and with the heat and the wind it is not easy to find a perfect balance around the whole lap but overall I would say it was a positive day. There are still things to improve and look into for tomorrow, tyre wise and a bit of balance tuning, plus I think it will be even more windy which is a challenge for everyone in these cars. I am pretty happy with the start of the weekend but tomorrow is a different day and we have to see whether we can do it in qualifying when it counts.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“It feels great to finally get into a race weekend and I’m pleased so far with how things are going. I’m settling in well and taking some steps forwards. If I were to summarize today, I’ve got some work to do on the short runs as over one lap I don’t quite feel the car is within me just yet and I still have to think about what the car is doing, but in the long runs I’m more comfortable and I think the pace is there so that’s positive. I think we have some work to do on the soft tyre as there is also room for improvement there, but the car is performing well, we have good pace and tomorrow it will be pretty close in qualifying so we need to make sure we get it right and have a good start to the season.”

Haas F1

The opening round of the planned 23-race 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at Bahrain International Circuit as teams prepared for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn circuit made up Friday’s agenda – 2021 regulations shortening each session by 30 minutes over previous seasons. FP1 was hosted under a blazing afternoon sun, with air temperature at 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and track temperature hitting 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 degrees Fahrenheit). FP2’s track action, held in cooler conditions in the evening, proved a more representative session for the grid with the second practice session set under the floodlights at the same time, 6 p.m. local time, as qualifying and the race.

Mazepin and Schumacher both ran a total of 16 laps to kick start the weekend in FP1. Running an identical tire strategy, they commenced with an install lap on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium compound followed by some baseline running on the rubber. They swapped onto the Red soft tire later in the session – both setting their fastest laps in the process. Schumacher logged a 1:34.501 for 19th with Mazepin clocking a 1:34.975 lap for 20th overall.

FP2 saw Mazepin and Schumacher sample the hardest compound available this weekend, the Pirelli P Zero White tire, before heading out onto qualifying simulations armed with fresh new sets of the soft rubber. A 1:33.297 placed Schumacher 18th on the timesheet with Mazepin 20th on a 1:33.449. Both drivers ended the session on high-fuel runs – Mazepin running on used softs while Schumacher utilized his earlier hard set.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 75 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 35 by Mazepin and 40 by Schumacher.

Nikita Mazepin

“It was very special for me to take part in my first FP1 and FP2 sessions. That alone was very positive. On the technical side the day was quite challenging. There’s been a lot of wind around, and it wasn’t very consistent. These cars, compared to Formula 2, are much more effective with the wind in a positive way and also in a negative way. The car was quite difficult at times. Being realistic, we were very fortunate with the conditions achieved on the final day of testing, they were very fast. The track today was much slower and that made driving today much more challenging – for us at least. With 23 rounds you’re going to experience very different things. It’s about getting the most experience banked and that’s definitely happened today.”

Mick Schumacher

“FP1 was in really hot conditions, which was something I hadn’t really experienced yet. It was cooking the tires up, and obviously the cockpit as well. But it was good for learning – understanding how the car behaves in those conditions. Moving into FP2, we knew the conditions would be completely different. Unfortunately, the wind also changed, it was something that everybody had to get used to and some people were struggling with it – so were we. Once we got the info on how to approach the corners everything then seemed a bit better. The long run was also interesting for us, and it was more mileage for me really. I felt comfortable in the car, which is a good sign and shows that we did enough work to prepare myself to get in and be comfortable. I know there’s a lot to improve from my side still, as a driver I know I have the tools to improve the lap time. I’ll be working hard on myself to keep improving and keep learning.”

Günther Steiner

“Even if the results don’t show it – not a bad day for us. I was pretty happy with FP1. We got all our laps in and there were no mistakes made, it was solid throughout. The feedback from the drivers was good and the car had a decent balance. In FP2 we were then struggling to find the balance with both of the guys, but that’s part of the learning curve.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team started the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend with a trouble-free Friday practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Esteban Ocon ended the day in eleventh place with team-mate Fernando Alonso – driving his first Friday practice since 2018 – fifteenth under the lights in Bahrain.

New regulations for 2021 means Friday practice has been reduced from three hours to two hours, making every run crucial to the progress of the race weekend.

The first session – under scorching 35C heat - focused on a series of aero evaluations on the A521 with both drivers on Hard (C2) tyres for the early part of the day before finishing FP1 on Softs (C4).

In FP2, held in the evening, track temperature dipped by almost 15C, with both sides of the garage running the Mediums (C3) for the first time of the day and then low fuel on Softs. Esteban and Fernando rounded off their day with higher fuel runs.

Esteban: “It’s good to be back in the car again in preparation for a race weekend. I think we’ve had a solid day as we made an improvement from FP1 to FP2. We’ve discovered a lot of things between now and testing, so it was good to carry that on during today’s practice. We still need to work hard and find more details, though, and there’s certainly more potential to unlock from the car. It’s only Friday and we know tomorrow is when it counts. I quite enjoyed the shorter practice sessions. It means you have to focus a lot more on each run as every bit of track time counts.”

Fernando: "It was fantastic to be back in a free practice session today in Formula 1. You feel the extra adrenaline with the traffic and everything going on around you; it’s very different to testing. It felt good and I felt the racing spirit each lap, which I enjoyed. We got through our programme in the first session in very hot conditions and then some long runs this evening as the track cooled for FP2. We do still need to fine tune some of the car setup and analyse the data a bit more, but, overall, I’m happy with my day."

Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “We did quite a lot of work today. For FP1, we tried some different settings on the car and then, this evening, the team did a good job and we were able to improve the balance of the car. I think we made a step in the second session and we improved our pace. Now it’s time for us to analyse what we’ve done and identify the areas where we can make further improvements. We will keep looking forward as a team and continue to work. The aim is to make another further step for tomorrow’s practice and get ready ahead of qualifying.”

Alfa Romeo

The first official sessions of the 2021 season came and went – and they did it so quickly. With both FP1 and FP2 being reduced to 60 minutes (from 90), on-track action benefitted as teams sought to make the most of their time.

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN had a solid day of work, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen finishing Free Practice 1 – the first official session of the new campaign - in P10 and P11, a very promising sign ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying.

The overall team tally of 76 laps delivered plenty of data for the engineers to touch up the set-up ahead of the rest of the weekend – and that’s when the real first battle of 2021 begins…

Kimi Räikkönen

“A regular first day in which we were able to try various things. Even though the conditions were quite different from what we experienced in testing, the feel of the car was similar, which allowed us to take up where we left off two weeks ago. We had a solid start and were able to work on the set-up. Of course, losing some time because of the incident was not ideal, but we have already so much data from testing that it wasn’t a big setback. We’re looking forward to seeing where we stand tomorrow: we still have to refine a few things tonight but we should be ok.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“It was a good start to build on the positive feeling we had after testing. Today’s conditions were quite different, it was way hotter in the day, but we are still happy with our pace in both the short and long runs. The field looks really tight, so we will need to put everything together to gain places in qualifying. The shorter practice sessions didn’t really affect us much: in the end, we spent a lot of time in the garage in FP1 in the old system anyway so now there is a bit more action on track. We now need to go and find another bit of time with the engineers and get ready for qualifying: the target is to get into Q2 and then see what we are able to fight for.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“I think it’s been a good start to the weekend – the car felt strong in both sessions and I’m happy with it. We didn’t quite put it together this evening, on our fast lap, but overall, I think there are a lot of positives to take-away from today and I’m excited now to see what we can do in qualifying tomorrow. The long run with high fuel, that we completed in preparation for the race, felt strong so I think there are some good signs but it’s obviously only the first day, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’ll fine-tune everything tonight with the engineers and I think we’ll be in a good position for tomorrow. I hope that we can get into Q3 in qualifying – that’s our target – and if we manage that we should be in a position to fight for some good points come race day.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“It’s been a great day – I’ve experienced my first practice sessions in the car as a Formula 1 driver and it’s really exciting. I think my passion has really shone through today and I’m looking forward to showing my full potential behind the wheel tomorrow in qualifying. We’ve got great pace this weekend as a team and I’m keen to see how I perform tomorrow in my first F1 qualifying session. I’m still learning a lot in the car and it’s obviously only my first race weekend so I’m keen to not put too much pressure on myself but I’m looking forward to getting out on track for my first race and seeing what we can do.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer):

“I’m excited to be back on track racing again - we were obviously here testing a few weeks ago but it feels completely different being here in Bahrain for a race weekend. Due to each session only lasting an hour this season, we had a full runplan to get through. It’s difficult to learn a lot from FP1 here, due to the high track temperatures being drastically different to those that we’ll experience in qualifying and the race, so we focused on some aero understanding during that session. FP2 followed a normal plan – with a medium tyre run, followed by the softer compound. Both drivers put in good laps on the performance runs, which was extremely positive in more representative conditions this evening. The longer runs we completed will allow us to confirm that the data gathered during testing here is relevant for the race weekend. Unfortunately, we saw something we weren’t comfortable with in the data on Yuki’s car, so we called him in as a precaution, however this was just a few minutes before the end of the session so had no impact on our running. Overall, I think we had a really positive day today and I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”

McLaren

Lando Norris

“A reasonable first day back in the car. I think we started where we left off in testing, which is a good thing. The car has improved in some areas, which is positive, but other areas have got a little bit worse. It’s been a tricky day to put it all together but on the whole I’m happy. Here and there we’ve got some work to do for tomorrow, but if we can put it together, hopefully we can be competitive. We seem to be very close to AlphaTauri, Ferrari and other cars, so tomorrow will definitely be tight, but we’ll see what we can do.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“I thought having an hour session instead of 90 minutes meant it would be a bit easier, with less time on track – but it was pretty chaotic actually. You feel the half-hour. It goes quick. I think it was quite fortunate that we were here a couple of weeks ago, so we could hit the ground running. I think you need to make the most of that track time.

“I’m still getting there, I still want to find a few things in the car and obviously within myself. In FP2 I made some inroads, but hopefully I’ll find another step tomorrow to get more where I want to be.”

Andrea Stella - Executive Director, Racing

“The first day of practice for a new season is always very busy, but today was intense, with the length of the sessions reduced from 90 to 60 minutes. Happily, we didn’t have any major problems. The team did a good job to ensure both our busy sessions progressed smoothly, and we completed our programme.

“The change of conditions from day to night, and the major variable of the wind always keeps it interesting in Bahrain. In addition, the field looks incredibly compact and competitive, so there’s a lot of work to do to be ready for qualifying and the race – but we’ve started with a productive Friday.”

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“It’s very busy with less time in the practice sessions, but we were able to get a lot out of it. Every lap helps me get more used to the car and I’m able to find more of a rhythm. I’m still trying a lot of things and learning as I go, so I’m looking forward to going over the data and coming back tomorrow with the insights we have gained. The car was really promising in some corners and less so in others, but that’s normal at this stage of the season. We will work tonight to find a more consistent balance. As you can see, the midfield is very tight and everyone is learning quickly, but I hope we will be a factor.”

Lance Stroll

“It was great to be back in the car today and I’m excited to get racing again. Today was the first real indication of everyone’s performance and you can see that the middle of the grid is very close and competitive. It was a little tricky on track with the high winds - a bit like it was in testing at times. Today’s practice sessions also reminded me just how important it is to get the little details right, so we will work hard tonight and go over all the data to find improvements where we can.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“The practice sessions are shorter for everyone this year, but the goals are the same. It’s about making sure you’re able to complete your performance runs and race simulations. We made progress with both of those objectives, collected a large amount of information and have learned more about the car and its characteristics. We’ve made progress since we were here for testing, but the conditions were quite windy in the second session, and it’s still not easy to have a clear picture of where we sit in the pecking order just yet. On Sebastian’s side, he had a disrupted test, so it was about getting him as much track time as possible today. The more comfortable he is with the car, the more he can push. For Lance, it was a productive day and plenty of laps completed as we head into the weekend. We still need to improve our pace over a single lap and that’s one of the priorities as we prepare for final practice and qualifying tomorrow.”

Mercedes

Work to do for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team ahead of the season-opener in Bahrain

 Valtteri finished the first session of the day in P2 with Lewis in P4
 In the afternoon session, Lewis was third-fastest while Valtteri finished fifth
 The team focused on long-run pace and optimising the car balance based on our learnings since last week’s test session

Lewis Hamilton

The car wasn’t where we wanted it by this weekend. It’s looking better but still not perfect so we’re working as hard as we can. We still have a hill to climb but we’re staying positive. We thought Red Bull would be as fast as they are, so we know they are leading at the moment. McLaren are looking great and it’s good to see them taking a step. It will be interesting to see how the long runs are.

Stability - it’s all about having a stable car and being able to make the tyres last. That’s going to be key in this climate and with the wind we have here.

[On the forecast of a windy Sunday]… That’s not great for us! The rear is unstable as it is but I’m sure everyone will be in the same boat - some a little more, some a little less. For people at home trying to understand, when you approach a corner and the rear moves, you’re trying to find that tipping point.

The tipping point used to be further away with more downforce on the car - now it falls away much quicker than normal. The performance we’ve lost on tyres this year doesn’t help but we’ll work away tonight and try to find a way.

Valtteri Bottas

First, the car felt better than in testing. It felt like we’re still not yet there with the car balance, but it was a trouble-free day and no big issues. I think the main thing in my mind is that we have plenty of work to do if we want to fight for the pole this weekend.

Inconsistency in the balance, especially in the rear-end was one area to work on from testing and in terms of set-up approach, things improved and the car does feel better but it’s not quite yet where we would want it. We still have tonight and tomorrow morning to try and figure it out.

The last long run we did was pretty difficult: I couldn’t really put any laps together and the car felt nearly undrivable at times. But it’s only Friday and that’s why we do practice. We’re definitely in the mix. McLaren looked strong today, so too Red Bull as expected. I think we are up there - we’re aren’t the fastest but we’re not too far off it. We’ll see tomorrow.

Andrew Shovlin

We’ve had a productive day. The first session was a bit too hot to be representative but it was still useful for testing the changes we’ve made to the car since last week and we do seem to have improved the overall balance. The second session had a much cooler track which better matches qualifying and the race so we were able to focus on some single lap practice and long runs at the end. We’ve still got quite a bit of work to do, especially on the long runs where we didn’t look strong. We need more pace and better degradation in order to be competitive but both those problems are linked to the same cause so hopefully we can make some progress overnight.

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

It was hot this afternoon, meaning that the tyre performance dominated the FP1 running. Both George and Nicholas completed their programmes and had no issues with the car. The cooler evening session offered more suitable conditions for qualifying and race preparation and we were able to complete useful running on both cars despite the shorter Free Practice session format this year.

We have had a very successful day, have collected all the data we wanted and had a first proper look at a qualifying and race simulation using the race tyres for this weekend. The performance of the car is still below what we would like, but we are making progress and we are confident that we can push the car hard for the remainder of this weekend, especially on Sunday.

George enjoyed a calm and well-constructed day during which he built-up his confidence in the car, finishing with a well measured stint on the qualifying C4 tyre. Nicholas made a few changes to his car ahead of FP2, but the change of wind for the evening session dominated the balance and he found it a little difficult to recover his momentum from FP1. He will reset overnight and then use FP3 to get himself ready for the key qualifying session.

George Russell

It was obviously tricky conditions today and I think the track temperature was up at about 48 degrees at some points in FP1, which is incredibly hot. FP2 felt pretty good and our high fuel pace was better than expected even with these gusty winds, so I was pleasantly surprised by that. Equally the wind is changing so much at the moment, which affects everybody a huge amount, but I believe our car is more sensitive to these changes. Fingers crossed it is either calm or in a favourable direction tomorrow and Sunday. I think it will be a long and tricky race, but I am looking forward to it.

Nicholas Latifi

It was a difficult one today. It was very tricky, and I was struggling to find the right balance with the car. We had different issues in different practice sessions. FP1 was one thing and we tried to solve it and went too far the other way. I wasn’t satisfied in FP2 on the low or high fuel, so we have a lot of work to do tonight. We need to dig into the data and see what we can find.

Ferrari

The first Friday of free practice of the 2021 season saw Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow tackle a particularly busy programme, making the most of the available track time, which has been reduced by a third compared to last year. Track and weather conditions were very different to those in testing at this track two weeks ago, as can be seen from the lap times. The team worked on fine tuning the SF21, mainly with a view to the race, concentrating on tyre management.

FP1. In the first hour, which is always less relevant given the high temperatures and the sand on track, the two SF21s ran on the Soft compound tyres: Charles did 14 laps, one less than Carlos. The Monegasque’s best time was a 1’31”993, while his team-mate posted a 1’32”366.

FP2. The session began at 18 local time and the team started work in qualifying trim but soon after focussed on the race, doing long runs with each driver on a different programme to acquire as much data as possible. On the Soft tyres, Carlos’ best time was a 1’31”127, while Charles, who encountered traffic on his simulation run, stopped the clocks in 1’31”612. For the rest of the time, both drivers worked on tyre evaluation, to assess potential strategies for qualifying with a view to the race. Carlos did 26 laps on the Medium compound, while Charles did the same number of laps on the Softs.

Tomorrow. Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying gets underway at 18 local (16 CET) tomorrow, preceded by the final free practice session at 15 (13 CET).

Carlos Sainz

“Today we had very different conditions in the first and second sessions. In FP1 everything felt fairly normal and going into FP2 the conditions changed quite a bit in terms of wind and obviously track temperature. It made the car and the balance trickier, and it brought the field together. We were surprised with how tight the short runs were in terms of performance.
Every lap I do with the car I get to understand it a bit better, how it behaves and how it adapts to the changing conditions. It takes some time, so it was important for me to have a clean Friday and complete our programme. Tomorrow it could be a different story again, with different conditions, especially the wind, so we need to take it step by step, building up to Qualifying.”

Charles Leclerc

“Today has been a good day and maybe we didn’t expect to be as competitive. Though it’s still very early days for now, FP1 was positive on my side and FP2 a bit less. I’ve been struggling a little bit with the car rear end and didn’t manage to finish the lap I wanted to, but even though overall there’s still a lot of work to do I can feel there’s a lot of motivation in the team and I can see and feel the improvements that have been made since last year. This is good for now.

Tomorrow will be the day when we’ll know exactly where we are compared to the others as this is when everyone will push to the limit; everything will be clear in qualifying. Even though we expect the usual cars will still be at the front, the field is very very tight and I think qualifying tomorrow will be very tight too but this is exciting and this is what we like as drivers to try and make the difference.”

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