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Sakhir, F1 Test Day 1 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

12 March 2021 - 18:19
Sakhir, F1 Test Day 1 - Team quotes

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN began the three-day testing session at the Bahrain International Circuit with a solid day of running in challenging conditions. Despite the morning sun giving way to something akin to a sandstorm in the afternoon, the team completed 133 laps without technical issues, a good way to begin our final approach to the start of the season.

Kimi Räikkönen started the day in the car, racking up nearly 350km before lunch. After the break, Antonio Giovinazzi took over testing duties, tackling the now dusty track to complete the team’s programme for the day. In total, the nearly 720km accrued by the team represent a good return from today’s work, with the promise of more to come tomorrow.

Antonio will return to the cockpit for day two, with Kimi bringing the team’s pre-season programme to an end on Sunday.

Jan Monchaux, Technical Director: “It was a very pleasing start to our week of testing here in Bahrain. We have been through a full programme today, completing all the test items we had. We only have three days on the track, so it was very encouraging to be able to use our time fully with no reliability issues. The conditions were not ideal – the wind in the morning has the potential to cloud the behaviour of the car, as you never know if something is caused by a gust of wind or not. The afternoon was a bit better, the sand was annoying but it did not affect our programme and we ended up doing more laps than in the morning. We now have a night to analyse the data we collected and draw conclusions ahead of another day on track tomorrow.”

Kimi Räikkönen (Car #7): “First day in the car for me, so it was positive to run without any issue. It was quite windy and the conditions would change from corner to corner, which made it a bit tricky, but it was the same conditions for everyone so it didn’t really make a difference. As far as our programme went, it was a typical testing day: we tried different things, made sure everything went as planned and ticked all the boxes on our list. It’s pointless to make guesses about where we stand right now, we will have to wait for the first race, but our aim is of course to move further up the grid compared to last year.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Car #99): “I think we did a good job, despite the difficult conditions. I am happy with the car and the work the team did, taking into account it was just my first day this year. We need to keep working like this for these remaining days, of course, but we have a solid base to build on. After three months outside of the car, coming back behind the steering wheel is always tough, but we were helped by having a smooth day without any issue. I am hoping for another busy day like today when I am back in the car tomorrow.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team began its on-track preparations for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship today with Esteban Ocon at the wheel of the A521 at the Bahrain International Circuit.

On a sandstorm-hit day in Bahrain, Esteban recorded 129 laps, the second-most of any driver on the first day of the official pre-season test.

Esteban began his day at the wheel with aero correlation work, with a front tyre rake fitted to the car for the opening runs. With the initial laps running smoothly, Esteban pushed on and ran to his programme as planned with 55 laps completed before the lunch break.

Conditions deteriorated over the one-hour interlude, with a sandstorm hitting the area, resulting in wind gusts and, subsequently, sand covering the 5.412km circuit.

Despite the unique weather, Esteban was immediately out of the garage for the afternoon running, continuing to increase his lap count to over a century midway through the session. On the C4 tyres, he improved his lap-time to a 1min 31.146secs, rounding off his day with 129 laps completed.

Tomorrow, Fernando Alonso will drive the A521 for the first time.

Esteban Ocon, #31, P3, 1:31.146, 129 laps:

“Everything went well today, and it was definitely a good first day back at school! It was a solid one for the team, we completed the programme with ease and we even had time at the end of the day to do pit-stop practice with the team, which was quite nice as it meant we could get ourselves back into race situations. We put in some decent laps today and we learned everything we set out to achieve and that’s exactly what you need during test days. We faced all kinds of conditions as well: heat this morning then strong gusts and a sandstorm this afternoon, so pretty much everything except rain. That was interesting but we did what we needed to, and I look forward to driving the car again later this weekend.”

AlphaTauri

Scuderia AlphaTauri today took to the 5.412 km Bahrain International Circuit for the first of three days of official FIA Formula 1 pre-season testing, ahead of the season opener at the same venue on 28th March.

Pierre Gasly started the morning session strong, racking up an impressive 74 laps in his all-new AT02 – the highest of all drivers within the session. Finishing P2 ahead of the lunchbreak, he put in an impressive first performance as ambient air temperature continued to rise through the morning to reach 32°C and ended the day in 8th place. The afternoon saw Yuki Tsunoda head out for his first official test, with conditions becoming more difficult as an increase in wind saw large amounts of sand and dust settle on the track. The wind and the sand, both in the air and on the track didn’t make his day an easy one, but with a slightly shortened session due to an issue in the car, he could complete a total of 37 laps to finish in P9 at the end of his first day. Tomorrow both drivers will take to the track again for the second day of pre-season testing, with Tsunoda in the morning and Gasly in the afternoon.

Pierre Gasly

“Everything felt really good with the car this morning, we had a positive start to testing and were able to do a lot of laps – our main goal for today. Running for just three days, it’s important that we make the most of this time on track. We managed to complete our full testing programme for the first day and I felt very comfortable in the car. Of course, there are areas that we need to work on and improve but that’s to be expected on the first day. The conditions today are quite tough to drive in – F1 cars don’t perform well with this level of wind – which isn’t great but it’s good to understand how the car works in these situations, especially as the first race of the season will be at this circuit.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“It was great to experience the new car properly for the afternoon session and to complete my first official Formula 1 pre-season test as a Scuderia AlphaTauri driver. Obviously, at this stage mileage and data collection is key for me – as a rookie I want to gain the most out of the only three-days of testing available and learn a lot ahead of the first race here in Bahrain. It’s been quite a difficult afternoon session unfortunately. The weather has been bad, with the sand and wind making the conditions tricky to drive in, and then the team discovered an issue with the fuel system in my car. This meant that I had to box ahead of the end of the session – they’re investigating it now though and I’ll be ready to head back out on track when the lights turn green for the morning session tomorrow.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“It’s great to be back on track in Bahrain and running the AT02 for the first proper test. Pierre drove for us this morning and we completed some aero mapping and runs first thing, before getting into some longer running further into the session. The car performed very well in the morning, we completed our full run-plan and had no issues. We’re obviously quite restricted with running this test, having only three days, so we went through our test plan and covered some good ground. We then swapped to Yuki in the afternoon and unfortunately it hasn’t been such a smooth afternoon, for several reasons. Firstly, the sand both on-track and in the air, made it extremely difficult – so the track was quite a lot slower to begin with. Unfortunately, we then spotted some issues in the fuel system, which were impacting most of his laps and meant we couldn’t give him any consistent runs. The session was quite compromised for him, which is a shame, but we stopped running before the chequered flag, so we could investigate the problem and fix it ahead of his running first thing tomorrow.”

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: Conditions were tough throughout the day, with high temperatures, strong winds and a lot of sand on the track this afternoon. This made performance testing very difficult, however, we were able to change focus to data gathering and operational practice, including pitstops and race start simulations.

Roy did a very good job in the difficult conditions, making no mistakes as he and his engineers worked nicely through their programme. He provided valuable feedback throughout the day, including on the new 2021 Pirelli tyres, which we had previously only run for a limited time at the final races of last season.

We have plenty to look through tonight as we continue our preparation for the race here in a few weeks’ time, but there were no issues with the car today and we are now in a good position to push it harder tomorrow. Hopefully the conditions will improve enough overnight to allow Nicholas the opportunity to try a range of test items as he begins to optimise the FW43B ready for racing.

Roy Nissany: I think it was a strong first day even with the poor conditions where we experienced a lot of sand and dust in the air. We got the most out of the car and I am happy with my performance, and I think the engineers were as well. We collected all of the data that we wanted and tested a lot of items so it has definitely been a very productive day, a lot of fun and a great opening to the season.

Red Bull

Red Bull Racing Honda’s 2021 Formula One Championship charge got off to a solid start in Bahrain today, with Max at the wheel of the BR16B as this year’s sole three-day pre-season test kicked off at the Bahrain International Circuit.

In blustery and extremely dusty conditions Max powered through 139 laps of the 5.412km track on his way to the day’s quickest time. After his first marathon stint in the new car Max said: “We had a very positive day and managed a lot of laps even though the track conditions were quite difficult. It was very warm with a lot of wind and we know the degradation is always high around here so I’m very happy with how it went. We aimed for this number of laps and when you can complete a full programme like this the Team can also be pleased with the information we have. We don’t need to talk about pace yet and it isn’t really a discussion until we get to Q3 at the first race weekend - it’s only then you see the real pace in all the cars. The main thing is that the car felt nice to drive, so it’s a positive start.”

Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: “Today went well. The conditions were pretty difficult and very windy, especially in the morning. It calmed down a bit in the afternoon but a lot of dust had been kicked up and it was very hazy and quite difficult to run in. In terms of objectives we’re really pleased, as we had a target in terms of the number of laps we wanted to get through and a fairly busy run plan and we were able to stick to both. Lap time is not what it’s about at this stage and I don’t think Max will be getting too pumped up about being at the top of the timesheet on day one. What’s more important is that we were able to follow the plan and do the laps. For Sergio tomorrow, the conditions should hopefully be a little better. It’s not supposed to be quite as hazy, but the wind is likely to still be quite strong. The plan will be pretty much the same for Checo, so fingers crossed we’re looking forward to another good day.”

Haas F1

Mick Schumacher was first up behind the wheel of the Uralkali Haas F1 Team VF-21 on the opening day of Formula 1 pre-season testing Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit. The 21-year-old rookie would endure a somewhat frustrating morning session at the desert track as heat, dust and wind added to some early technical woes for the team. A hydraulic issue with just seven laps logged led to a lengthy delay in the garage for a gearbox change.

Schumacher returned in the final half hour of the session to grab a handful of laps before the checkered – running on the Pirelli C2 White tire exclusively in the morning. While the air temperature had topped 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the track temperature 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit), Schumacher’s last stint was compromised by the on-set of a sandstorm and accompanying winds – as well as a brief red flag stoppage for the stricken Scuderia Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. The best lap of Schumacher’s opening test session was a 1:36.127 – placing him 16th overall.

Track conditions proved no better when Nikita Mazepin took the wheel of the VF-21 for his maiden test run as the second session of the day got underway at 3 p.m. local time. Mazepin, also a Formula 1 rookie, recorded a solid 70 laps working his way through the afternoon run program – the 22-year-old accruing valuable mileage on the first of just three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Mazepin sampled three different sets of Pirelli’s compounds on Friday starting off on the C2 White tire before progressing up to the softer C3 Yellow and C3 Prototype tires. It was on the C3 Yellow he set his fastest time – a 1:34.798 lap around the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn track to sit 15th on the timesheets. While there was no letup in the hunt for grip amidst the dusty conditions Mazepin ran through to the checkered flag as the session concluded under the floodlights at 7 p.m. local time.

Mazepin will be first out the garage tomorrow morning steering the VF-21 with Schumacher back in action in the afternoon’s second session.

Mick Schumacher

“It was great to be in a Formula 1 car again, but obviously I’d have loved to have had more laps. It would have been great to get those laps in that we lost sitting in the garage due to the hydraulic issue. Fortunately, we got a few laps in at the end. I was happy to take them, happy to be in the car, and happy to push at times and try some things. Conditions weren’t great with a sandstorm coming in, but it was still valuable time in the car. It’s been very gusty here – it makes it very unpredictable; it can feel different from corner to corner really. That’s something you have to get used to. F1 cars these days are very wind-affected, any little gust of wind sets off the car massively. I think that’s why we saw quite a few spins and moments on track today. It’ll be interesting to see how it is tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll be better than today and we get to do a lot of laps.”

Nikita Mazepin

“It’s been an amazing day to be honest. I was very fortunate to have a smooth afternoon. As we’ve seen with the first day of running, things don’t always go the way you planned – but it was important to get laps under our belt. It was also a very nice feeling to try the car for real after so much hypothetical build-up, and also what you plan to do can be very different in real life. The conditions have been rather challenging because of the amount of sand and wind that we’ve had. I’ve been to Bahrain a lot and never seen this much sand, it was challenging, but in this sport you don’t get to choose. All these factors have made for an interesting day and a very good learning day. I was also very happy with the physical side of things. Obviously, the graduation from F2 to F1 is rather big, but for a first day I’m very satisfied.”

Günther Steiner

“We had a difficult start to our morning with a hydraulic systems issue on Mick’s car. He didn’t get a lot of laps, which isn’t ideal, but he got his first outing in the new car which is a good thing, and his feedback off those laps was good. Hopefully he’ll have a better day tomorrow, and we’re confident that will happen. In the afternoon with Nikita the car was working flawlessly. We got a good amount of laps in. The conditions this afternoon were very difficult considering this was the first time he was having a proper run in a Haas F1 car. His feedback was good, and he showed he started to understand our car. We just need to get as many laps in as we can over the next two days. We need to give the guys time in the car and keep growing together.”

McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo

“It was really good to get back out in the car for my first proper session with McLaren. I was able to push the car a little bit and get more familiar with it. It was a smooth morning, everything ran well and that’s all you can ask in testing – you want reliability on your side and the team back in Woking has done an awesome job of giving us a great start on day one. We got a good amount of runs and laps done, with a focus on getting more and more familiar and comfortable in the car. The plan for the next few days is similar, we’re aiming to leave here feeling ready to go for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Happy days!”

Lando Norris

“First of all, very happy to be back in a Formula 1 car. It’s my first time putting the MCL35M to the test in the dry. It’s quite a shock to feel the speed of a Formula 1 car again, it’s been a while since I’ve had that sensation. It was a good shock and it felt nice to be back, but not as nice with the conditions today. The second half of the day was very dusty and windy which made it tricky, so it wasn’t the easiest first day back in the car. We spent the session going through our test programme, making sure there are no problems with the seat and that I’m comfortable in the car. We’ve got some things to work on from that side over the next couple of days. We’ll sit down and review everything this evening, but it’s been a solid first day. Thanks to everyone both here and back at the factory for all the hard work and making it such a smooth first day’s running.”

Andrea Stella Executive Director, Racing

“It was a productive first day of testing. The conditions were a bit special due to the wind and sand on the track, but actually this didn’t affect the run plan very much as we could still compare data from run to run and from both drivers. We didn’t have any major issues today, only small things to fix here and there which is normal on the first day running a new car. But it’s only day one, and we’ll keep monitoring as we accumulate mileage on the car.
“We were able to run through our planned test items – Daniel running in the morning and Lando in the afternoon – with both drivers getting an early understanding of the car. We now need to optimise the remaining two days with preparation for the first race being shorter than ever, so we need to try and be as efficient as possible.”

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“It was a very productive morning and really the first opportunity we’ve had to truly put the AMR21 through its paces. As I expected, there are a lot of new things to learn. I’m working with a different power unit compared to the past, which means there are lots of new procedures involved. Then there’s a new steering wheel with all its buttons, and different braking too - so I’m very aware that there is a lot to learn. The important thing is that I know where we can improve. It was tricky on track because it was so windy out there; you could see that everyone was fighting for grip. Today wasn’t about lap times, it was about finding a good balance in the car and getting a true read on it while collecting lots of important data, which we managed by running 51 laps in the morning session. I am looking forward to going over the data tonight and continuing to make progress with the car. I think we can say it was a good first day for the AMR21.”

Lance Stroll

“It was a good start to testing. Conditions were really tricky out there and you could feel the effect of the wind on the run down to Turn One, and you could feel the tailwind in certain corners too. I don’t think anybody found it easy out there. It’s early days to be making judgements on the car and we have to remember there is a cut in downforce, which you can feel in the car, and there are new tyres too. The important thing is that we made an encouraging start and it felt good to drive the AMR21. We spent the majority of today doing aero mapping and collecting plenty of useful data. It’s great to be back in the car and really feeling the energy of the team. It is a new beginning as Aston Martin and I am enjoying working with Sebastian and getting to know how he operates. All in all, it’s been a productive session and I definitely enjoyed my day in the AMR21!”

Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, both drove the SF21 on the first day of the only 2021 pre-season test, that runs until Sunday. In total, the pair covered 115 laps (622,4 kms), split between 58 for the Monegasque in the morning and 57 for the Spaniard in the afternoon.

Morning. At 10 on the dot, Charles dove out of the pits onto the Sakhir track for a short first run with the car fitted with a rake, which helps gather data for the engineers on how the car is behaving. Then, after a quick check, Leclerc was back on track for some longer runs with the C2 compound, doing several laps in consistent conditions. He drove from 10 up to just before 2 pm, also running the C3 compound. However with ten minutes remaining, he was instructed by the team to park the car at the side of the track because of an anomaly with the combustion spotted on the telemetry. He did 58 laps, or 313.3 kilometres, his best time being a 1’33”242.

Afternoon. The car then underwent the necessary checks and was prepared for Carlos who was thus able to make his debut at the wheel of the SF21 shortly before 16. Despite strong winds, limited grip and poor visibility, the Spaniard’s work programme was similar to that of his team-mate, running both the C2 and C3 compounds. Carlos completed 57 laps (308,5 kms), the best in 1’31”919.

Programme. On Day 2, the Scuderia will follow a similar programme to today’s. This time, Sainz will drive the first part of the day and Charles the second.

Carlos Sainz

quote In general I think today was a positive first day of testing, where the target was to complete our whole run programme and we did it, so happy with that. I guess everyone wants to figure out the performance of each car after today, but I think it is way too early to tell, and very difficult to know in these kind of conditions – full of sand, very windy and with big variations in temperatures. All in all I think we can consider today a very good day. Thanks to everyone at the track and back at the factory. We keep working!

Charles Leclerc

quote The first day in a new car is always very interesting, after all the work carried out over the winter. We completed the whole programme without any major problems and the first impression of the car is pretty good. But obviously, it’s far too early to give a full assessment. Now I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again tomorrow!

Mercedes

A gearshift problem in the morning session hindered the early progress of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team on day one of pre-season testing in Bahrain but a solid afternoon of running helped to recover some of the testing and development targets for the day.

 Valtteri was up first in the morning session but his initial run was disrupted by a gearshift problem on lap one. The Finn went on to complete a further 5 laps collecting aerodynamic data after his gearbox was replaced.

 Lewis took to the track in the afternoon session, completing 42 laps exploring various set-up changes and signing-off several test items and procedures.

 Mercedes-Benz Power Units completed a total of 1,721km today

Valtteri Bottas

The whole team was looking forward to getting on track but on the install lap we noticed an issue with the gearbox so we had to localise the problem and change the gearbox which takes quite a bit of time. Only at the end of the morning session could we get back out for a few more laps before the red flag. A total of six laps for me, all with aero rakes on the car so not much running today and not an ideal start.

In recent years things have been pretty much bulletproof so it’s not a familiar experience. The good thing is that this year if you miss some running you can hopefully catch up because of the mileage limitation linked to the cost cap efficiencies. I am confident we can recover and I’m looking forward to two good days over the weekend.

Lewis Hamilton

Today definitely wasn’t the cleanest of days that we’ve had but these things are sent to try us. Everyone has worked extremely hard to get us here. We had that mishap in the morning which was very unfortunate for Valtteri in terms of losing time on track and the team is working hard to try and understand what that was. I think they did a great job to turn the car around. The second session wasn’t without its challenges, but we exist to find solutions to the problems we’re faced with. We just had a good debrief and we’ll keep working away.

I’ve never seen a sandstorm come through here before in all the years that I’ve driven at this circuit. The sand was moving like rain would move. Having sand on the tyres isn’t good for their longevity and getting consistency on long runs is difficult. Over a single lap it isn’t the worst, but you need lots of laps at this time of year to get data.

We have no choice but to take the positives. I remember in 2007 during testing I had 10 days in the car and now it’s getting less and less. We only have a day and a half in the car before the first race, with different tyres and different aero modifications so it’s not easy but it’s the same for everyone. I’d like to think my nine years’ experience with this team will help me get the best out of it.

Andrew Shovlin

It’s been a poor start to the season from us today. We lost more or less the whole morning with Valtteri with a gearbox problem and our workload over lunch meant we were late joining the afternoon session with Lewis. Once we got running it was clear we didn’t have the car in the right balance window and while we made some progress during the day, we’re not happy with how the car is performing and it’s pretty clear we have some work to do. We’re quite a way behind on our test programme and need to find a bit of balance and speed but we have two days left and every opportunity to recover the situation.

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