Sakhir, F1 Test Day 3 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

14 March 2021 - 19:03
Sakhir, F1 Test Day 3 - Team quotes

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team rounded off the pre-season test weekend in Bahrain with 139 laps completed on the third and final day split between Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The team now has its sights firmly set on the season-opening race in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.

Today’s century of laps brings the teams’ lap tally for the whole of testing to 396, equivalent to 2,143km, with each daily programme running to plan.

Esteban took control of the A521 in today’s morning session, completing 61 laps with a best time a 1min 31.310secs on the C3 compound tyre.

Fernando drove in the second, and final, session of the weekend as he accumulated 78 laps with a 1min 30.318secs on C4 tyres his best lap-time.

The target today was to keep adding laps to the total, progress through a busy run plan filled with experimenting ideas on car balance and set-up choices on both high and low fuel.

Now, the team will analyse its data, ready for its return to the Bahrain International Circuit on 26 March when the opening practice session takes place ahead of the first race of the season, the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Both Esteban and Fernando have driven 206 laps in the A521 in 2021.

Esteban: Filming Day (Silverstone), 16 laps; Day 1, 129 laps; Day 3 AM, 61 laps
Fernando: Day 2, 128 laps; Day 3 PM, 78 laps

Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director

“This was a very solid test for us. We had an intense programme, almost trying to fit six days of testing into three, and we accomplished all of it without any significant problems. Our programme mostly focused on aerodynamic testing, especially in the area affected by the regulation changes, exploring set-up directions and getting the drivers accustomed to and confident in the new car. The team did an excellent job at the track matched with faultless support from the factories. We achieved our target of 130 laps per day and found some decent performance improvements over the three days. Each team had their own programme, so we won’t see what everyone’s got in hand before the first race in two weeks’ time. That said, we focus on ourselves and we feel well prepared for the start of the season.”

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s pre-season came to a successful conclusion as the sun set on Bahrain. The third day of running on the Sakhir circuit saw Kimi Räikkönen notch the highest lap count across the board, with 166 laps to the Finn’s name. Today’s total brings our overall mileage for the three days of testing to 422 laps – 2,283.86km.

Kimi’s programme for the day mirrored that of Antonio Giovinazzi from a day earlier, with a busy morning devoted to long runs and a race simulation, followed by an afternoon centered on performance runs. With no mechanical issues to hamper our day, Kimi and the team were able to complete the full programme on schedule – the third clean day in a row.

Armed with the knowledge gathered in this week of testing, the team’s focus now switches to the first race of the season in two weeks’ time. Returning to the Bahrain International Circuit to start the 2021 campaign will give us the first, real indications about the pecking order. The time to practice is over – now the real battle begins.

Jan Monchaux, Technical Director: “Another very productive test day – possibly the most productive of the three - to bring our pre-season to an end. It was a flawless session in which we managed to achieve even more than we had set out to do: I think 422 laps over three days is a new record for our team. Kimi’s programme for today was similar to the one we had yesterday with Antonio and we carried out some very good work on both our race trim and qualifying performance. It was important to have a positive outcome today as the conditions were probably the most representative of what we will experience during the race weekend.

“The results are encouraging but we’re not getting carried away: we know there is still a lot of work to do. This was just a friendly game: just a milestone on the long road that is the 2021 season. We feel ready to start the championship and we feel better prepared than last year. The car was reliable throughout the week and we improved on the weaknesses we had in 2020. Now we have ten days to study all the data we have gathered and find a bit more performance on both the single lap and over a race distance. Everyone will have raised their game by the time we’re back here in two weeks’ time and we’ll need to be ready.”

Kimi Räikkönen (Car #7): “It was a positive day from a work point of view. We got all we came here for and now we just have to see where we are when we’re back here racing in two weeks. Times in testing don’t mean anything and, right now, we don’t know how all the other teams are performing. But we know how our car does, and feeling wise, it is better than last year. I guess we are faster than at our best at the end of 2020, but whether that translate into a better performance in the races, that we will have to see.”

Haas F1

Sunday at Bahrain International Circuit saw Uralkali Haas F1 Team split driving duties again between Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin on the final day of pre-season testing with its VF-21.

Schumacher, having set 88 laps on Saturday, successfully completed his morning program accumulating another 78 laps around the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn track. The 21-year-old German ran through a variety of items on the day’s test list – working through procedures, learning more on the balance of the car, and gaining additional experience managing tires on high fuel. He ended the session 15th on the timesheets with a best lap of 1:32.053.

Mazepin returned in the afternoon keen to build on the combined 146 laps recorded through Friday and Saturday’s track outings. The 22-year-old rookie focused initially on shorter timed runs on the Pirelli C3 and C4 tires before some high-fuel runs to cap the day. With a fastest lap of 1:31.531 – Mazepin took the checkered in the evening completing the session 14th overall.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team’s total for pre-season testing was 394 laps – equating to 2132.328 kilometers (1325.022 miles) split between Mazepin (213) and Schumacher (181).

Next up is Round 1 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Bahrain Grand Prix, hosted at Bahrain International Circuit, March 26-28.

Mick Schumacher

“Obviously, it was a bit sad that this was the last day of testing before driving here on the grand prix weekend. Nevertheless, we have 23 races coming up this season, which is great. Again, it was a good productive day for me with a lot of laps – that’s always good. We’ve caught up with the losses from the first day. In general, I’d say we’re happy with how the test has gone. Day one was obviously a bit of shame as we lost opportunities for running but we’ve caught up and we got some pit stops in yesterday too. I’ve been able to experience day and night driving here, which was amazing. I’m very impatient to get going with the season now and I’m very much looking forward to it. It can’t come soon enough. I feel prepared and I’m very ready.”

Nikita Mazepin

“The conditions were very nice out there today, certainly in comparison to Friday’s afternoon session – when the conditions weren’t good for getting the performance out of the car. That said, for a rookie, it was a great learning experience to see how the car behaves with less grip. Today we focused in on low fuel runs for the first part of the afternoon and then we moved on to high fuel. We then finished off with some very productive pit stops. Testing’s been fun – and a very good learning curve. We started with very difficult conditions on day one, then we’ve progressed towards a more grippy track which means more opportunities to attract a lap time. The year is going to be long, but I think we’ve got the most out of these three days and the team’s done a great job.”

Günther Steiner

“It was a good last day, we got through everything as planned without any problems. The drivers did a good job. I think they’re learning and pretty satisfied with the laps they could get in. We got what we needed today including more pit-stop practice – it’s good that they get used to that one for Formula 1. So, with the exception of the little glitch on Friday morning, the three days of testing have been good with almost 400 laps completed. I’m pretty happy with how the test panned out. We now need to look at all the data we’ve collected and how to prepare for the Bahrain Grand Prix. I think the drivers have to let a lot of things sink in over the next week before heading into the first race weekend. The team will be doing the same. We just need to see that we find some more speed, but there will be something coming. We don’t really know where we’re at, so we just have to wait for the race weekend to see that.”

McLaren

Lando Norris

“Our last day in the car was good. We struggled with a few things which is, in a way, bad and good. You never want to run into issues, but it’s good we’ve learned about the car and have time to address it before we come back for the race. So, positives and negatives, but all in all it’s a positive, and this is exactly what we’re here to do during the test. It’s nice to be back at a track and I feel like I’m in a good place going into the race in a couple of weeks, so I’m excited to come back. A big thanks to the guys here at track and back in the factory, as well as the team at Mercedes HPP, for their hard work. It’s been a good few days of pre-season testing.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“So that wraps up the test. I’m really happy to have got it done reliably with no real issues or concerns, it’s been a really smooth three days. I’m really thankful to the team, both here at the track and back at the factory, for putting together a good car for these days at the test. They’ve really made me feel at home, so I’m feeling comfortable and I can’t wait to come back here and get on track for the Bahrain Grand Prix.”

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal

“It’s been a productive pre-season test for us in Bahrain. The reduced number of days meant it was crucial to maximise our running time and we’re pleased with the amount of work we’ve been able to complete. Lando’s feedback gave us a good benchmark on the MCL35M compared to our previous car, while Daniel was able to get more familiar with the car and provide useful data and insight for the engineers.

“The conditions out on track were slightly different to what we’re used to here in Bahrain. Running during the day means the track temperatures are much higher than usual, and the sandstorm on Friday evening proved an interesting challenge for the team and drivers. Despite this, we completed our run plans as expected throughout the weekend, with both drivers covering 328 laps over the three days.

“The team, both here in Bahrain and back at the factory, has done an excellent job alongside our Mercedes colleagues to deliver a reliable car, which is crucial to a productive test. Thanks to Lando and Daniel for their hard work and valuable feedback during this pre-season test. We head back to Woking to analyse all the data and make our final preparations before we return to Bahrain for the start of the season.

“Once again, the competition is looking very tight between the teams. The stability of the regulations makes it likely that we’re in for another close season of Formula 1, with plenty of battles ahead. As always, we appreciate all the support of our brilliant fans and our superb partners from around the world, which we carry with us as we embark on an exciting season ahead.”

Red Bull

Red Bull Racing Honda’s pre-season test programme came to a close in Bahrain this evening, with both Max and Sergio putting in their final laps ahead of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, which kicks off in two weeks’ time at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Sergio was behind the wheel of the RB16B this morning, posting a total of 49 trouble-free laps, during which he sampled the softer Pirelli compounds for the first time on his way to a best time of 1:30.187.

Commenting on his final stint in the RB16B before the start of the season Checo said: “It’s crazy to think that pre-season has already finished, it feels like it only just started. I think this is the shortest pre-season ever in my career! There’s a very limited amount of running and testing but we managed to work through a lot of set-up options and are improving every time we get into the car. I’m very excited about the season and I think we’ve got a good car underneath us but I still have a lot to learn in the car to get the maximum out of it. The Team is doing a fantastic job. It doesn’t really matter where we start in Bahrain, it matters where we finish in Abu Dhabi. Now we just want to look forward to the race weekend. We’re going to take it step by step and be patient in the beginning and then things will come to us.”

It was Max’s turn in the afternoon and after working through a busy programme mostly focused on medium compound tyres, the Dutchman also sampled the softer compound late in the afternoon to claim the fastest time of the three-day test with a lap of 1:28.960.

After his final outing, Max said: “It was another good day and we got through the whole programme. Conditions were a bit different to day one so we had to adjust the car a bit as we went along but from our side it was very smooth, as it has been throughout the whole test. I think we can say it has been a good weekend but of course that doesn’t give you any guarantees and all teams are doing different programmes at testing. We always look into what we can improve and for sure there are still things we want to work on but I think all teams will have that. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of weeks in Q3 where we really are but in general I would say the car feels good and I’m looking forward to going racing.”

Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: “Both sessions today were identical in terms of run plan. As opposed to the first couple of days, today was more about trying to optimise the car and understand where we’re going, so shorter runs, more set-up items, a bit more time in the garage. We were still doing some development work but also really getting the crew and the drivers up to speed in terms of procedures and pit stops. It was a similar plan for both drivers and similar results for both. Overall, this has been a positive test phase. Three days are never going to be enough; I don’t think anyone would say they are, but in terms of the time available, what we got out of this test was very useful. We’ve got a really good base to build from and we’re looking forward to coming back to Bahrain in a couple of weeks.”

Aston Martin

Lance Stroll

“I’m very happy with today’s work. We ran to our programme and collected lots of useful data by doing race simulations and long runs. We completed our job list for the day, which is a really good way to end the test after we lost out on a bit of running yesterday. We’ve got plenty of data to go over now to improve our understanding of the car, so that’s a nice position to be in – especially considering there were only three days of testing this year. I’m looking forward to starting the season here in Bahrain. We can go away now and make more improvements before we come back for the race.”

Sebastian Vettel

“We got plenty of laps on the board today, despite an early finish [caused by a loss of boost pressure]. Lance did a good amount of laps this morning too, so there’s a lot of data for us to work with. My running today was very useful and the track conditions were better, so that was a big help in understanding this car. This test has definitely helped me learn where I can improve as a driver with the car and where the team can improve the AMR21 too. It’s been a good learning curve and I’m excited to keep progressing with the car. I’m looking forward to racing here in Bahrain in two weeks.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“A pretty busy week where we learned a huge amount despite a few challenges here and there – including a sandstorm on Friday. Between them, Lance and Sebastian covered a total of 314 laps this week and we’ve now got a vast amount of data to digest before we come back here for the race. We lost a bit of track time with some technical issues over the weekend, especially for Sebastian yesterday, but that’s one of the reasons why we go testing. One of the main tasks this week was to continue helping Sebastian settle into the team and we’ve made a lot of progress already. Lance was able to conduct our programme as planned this morning, gaining some useful data on the long runs, race simulations and shorter runs too. It leaves us well placed to come back here for the race later this month.”

Pirelli

Pre-season testing was influenced by the local conditions. The first day was consistently windy with gusts that reached 47kph (25 knots), affecting the aerodynamics on the cars. As a result of the wind, there was plenty of sand on the track that compromised grip. Temperatures were also particularly high, so the combination of these factors led to some surface overheating and increased tyre degradation. On the second day the wind still remained but temperatures were lower, which reduced the overheating. As a result the teams had a better balance with their cars, with plenty of set up work carried out over generally short runs, as was the case on the opening day. The third and final day was run in better track conditions with moderate winds and a cool breeze but track temperatures similar to the first day. Many teams carried out long runs using the C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres nominated for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING

"Throughout all three days, all the compounds performed well and no problems such as graining emerged: only light abrasion on the softest compounds. As well as the weather conditions, lap times were naturally influenced by the different fuel loads run by each team, making performance comparisons with last year’s race and free practice at Bahrain very difficult. It’s also difficult to accurately assess the performance difference between the compounds, due to track evolution. The easiest to tell is probably the gap between the C2 and C3, which is around 0.5 seconds, while the gap between C3 and C4 is bigger than expected, with the C4 driven by many cars when the track was at its fastest. Now we look forward to the beginning of a season that will be the last one run with 13 inch tyres before the move to 18-inch tyres in 2022, for which a series of development tests has been planned throughout this year".

Ferrari

Over the course of the three day pre-season test at Sakhir’s Bahrain International Circuit, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’s SF21 completed a total of 403 laps, equivalent to 2,182 kilometres. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz shared the driving every day.

Morning. Charles was first in the cockpit on the final day and began with a short run on C3 tyres, with which he set his best time of 1’30”486. He then tackled a race simulation with two pit stops to change tyres. Charles did 80 laps (433 km), bringing his three-day total to 211 laps, or 1,142 km.

Afternoon. After lunch, it was Carlos’s turn to get down to work and he began with a set of used C4 compound tyres before switching to new C2s. At this point, Sainz also tackled a race simulation. In the final part of the session, as Charles did yesterday, the Spaniard drove the SF21 in qualifying trim. He did a total of 79 laps, with a best time of 1’29”611. Over the three days, Sainz did 192 laps, equivalent to 1,040 km.

Back on track in a fortnight. The Scuderia now heads home to Maranello where the vast quantity of data gathered will be carefully studied, prior to the first Grand Prix of the season, back here at Sakhir on Sunday 28 March.

Mattia Binotto Team Principal

“These were three very busy days of testing. One of our priorities was to make the most of the short time available to gain an understanding of the behaviour of the SF21 and we succeeded in doing that. I feel we have improved in many areas compared to last season. It’s hard to say where we are compared to our opponents, because this test was even harder than usual to interpret.

I was particularly pleased with the way Charles and Carlos worked with the team and the good relationship between the two of them, which has helped Sainz fit in with his new team very quickly.

For our part, we have to carefully analyse all the data to be as well prepared as possible for the start of the championship. There’s a lot to do, but we all really want to do well.”

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: We can be pleased with our day’s work today. The car ran reliably throughout, which is testament to the skill and effort of all those in Grove and at the track involved in designing, manufacturing and operating it. We were able to complete over 850km of valuable running, which enabled us to do a lot of testing and to gain further experience of the new Pirelli tyres. We worked through a good programme that included all aspects of a typical race weekend and which stressed the team, including George. Everyone rose to the challenge and is now looking forward to the real test in a few weeks’ time.

It is too early to comment on the pace of FW43B, but we are pleased with our initial findings. There are a lot of things to work on and improve, but we have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the car. We have a good opportunity over the next few days to identify areas that we can develop before the first race, and out of this will come some new test items and a run programme for FP1. We are looking forward to running the car again soon and seeing just how much we can extract from it.

George Russell: It was a very productive day and we put a lot of laps on the board, 158 in the end. The team did a great job over these three days, we have had no reliability issues, and everything ran smoothly. Ultimately performance is what we are here for and I think we have a lot to analyse. Some of our competitors do seem very quick, but equally I think the conditions did not always favour us. We have lots to analyse but overall, it has been a positive test for the team.

Mercedes

A solid day for the Mercedes AMG-Petronas F1 Team saw the W12 E Performance manage 750km of running to conclude pre-season testing in Sakhir, with Valtteri and Lewis sharing driving duties.

 Valtteri took to the track this morning under clear blue skies, putting together 86 laps of long run set-up work and general balance learning.
 Lewis jumped in the cockpit for the afternoon session completing a mix of long-run and qualifying work over 54 laps.
 The team covered 304 laps over the three-day test.
 Mercedes-Benz Power Units completed a total of 3,063km today.

Valtteri Bottas

Day one was compromised for me so I’m pleased the past two days have been efficient and clean. Today, like yesterday, we had plenty of laps and ran good quality tests. I’m still not entirely comfortable but we’ve been moving forward and getting better. There’s still more work to do; we’ve collected lots of data over these past few days which we will analyse to help us make the car faster ahead of the first race.

Time is even more limited now with the recent changes but our recovery from the first day has been very good. I absolutely believe that the car and team has the potential to fight for the title. I don’t think the package is quite there yet in terms of performance but I have no doubt it will be. I feel like I’ve had enough time in the car, performing short runs and long runs, and I really feel comfortable and confident. From my side I’m ready and as a team, we will be ready.

Lewis Hamilton

I’ve never been a massive fan of testing, I just love racing! It’s probably the only year I would have asked for more days though, because we’ve got lots of work to do. We’ve never felt in the past that we were quicker than everyone else after testing because you never know what people are doing with the fuel and set-ups. We always just focus on understanding our car the best way we can so if I’m honest, I feel the same this year. We won’t know until we get to qualifying in two weeks’ time exactly where we stand.

Today we made some improvements but it’s still not where we want to be. I can’t pick out any one area, it just feels globally through the lap that we need to improve. I’m looking forward to getting back into competition and back in that focus mode. Our team is all rowing in the same boat - we win and we lose together. I’m just happy to start another journey together with these boys and girls.

Andrew Shovlin

We’ve had another day with good reliability where we were able to run to plan throughout the day. Valtteri was doing long run setup work in the morning and Lewis doing a mix of long run work and qualifying work in the afternoon. We’ve made a bit of progress with the balance on higher fuel and the car was more predictable but we can see from the data we’ve collected over the last few days that on race pace, we’re not as quick as Red Bull. The lower fuel work was a more confusing picture, we didn’t gain enough and we need to go and look at our approach as far too many cars were ahead of us on pace today. We’ve had issues in recent years with pace in winter testing and managed to make good progress before the first race but we may have our work cut out this time. We’ve not got long before we’re back here for the race so we’ve planned a programme of work to try and understand some of our issues and will be leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to find some more speed over the next ten days.

AlphaTauri

Jody Egginton (Technical Director) comments about the three-day test

“Scuderia AlphaTauri concluded a positive third – and final - day of pre-season testing here on the Bahrain International Circuit, racking up an impressive 422 total laps (2283.86 km). Following two days of changeable conditions, today marked the first day of calmer weather – and cooler track temperatures - for both drivers. Starting in the morning session, Pierre continued to add to his impressive mileage tally, amassing a further 76 laps before the lunchbreak. Meanwhile, Yuki spent the afternoon finishing his testing plan with a race simulation, before finishing the test on a high, achieving a strong second place as the chequered flag fell.

Over the course of three days, the team completed a successful testing programme - including a vast amount of aero testing, with rakes fitted, and collected a large amount of data that the team will now analyse ahead of the first race again here in Bahrain at the end of the month. Following running, the team remain cautiously optimistic about the performance of the car but will now return to the factory to further understand the level of correlation between wind tunnel data and performance on track.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“Jumping out of the car in P2 today is a great feeling – of course you can’t get too ahead of yourself, as it’s only testing, but it’s great to finish the three days on a high. I’ve learnt so much over the last few days and collected crucial data for the team that we’ll now go back and analyse ahead of the first race. I think for me it’s great that we’re returning here so soon for the start of the season as I’ve managed to complete a lot of running here now and understand the track well. We’ve had a few small teething problems but that’s exactly what you’d expect from testing – we’re here to work everything out so we have the best possible package available to us come race day. I’ll continue working hard over the next few weeks and I’m excited for it to start!”

Pierre Gasly

“Now that the three days of testing are over, I can’t wait to start racing, we’ve managed to complete our full testing schedule and have a good understanding of everything. Preparing for the race, we know the car’s strengths and we know where we can still make some improvements. I feel confident in the car and I think we’re in a much better place than we were this time last year. I think we know where we’ll be fast, and we have understood how to work on the car further. I really hope we can be in the fight this season and get some good points. Honda have also done a great job with the Power Unit and so far, we’re really happy with it – it’s a strong step forward, compared to last year, and the reliability has been perfect all three days, which is really positive. I’m excited for us to get to qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix because I think that’s when we’ll really see what everyone can do.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“We closed the test here in Bahrain with another fantastic day and were able to cover all of the planned items. Pierre drove in the morning, with the focus on further setup items, to help improve the balance. We’ve managed to complete tests that we wouldn’t normally have the luxury of conducting on a race weekend, so it’s been a great opportunity for us to populate our database. Furthermore, we’ve been able to increase our understanding of the new 2021 tyre compounds over some long runs. We swapped to Yuki for the afternoon, where he had the opportunity to undergo his first, and only, race simulation before the season starts. This was crucial for him and particularly allowed him to learn more about tyre management techniques. The day ended for Yuki with some performance running, as the track temperature and wind dropped. The conditions meant that the track was the fastest of the three days and therefore flattered lap times somewhat. Both drivers have been very consistent and put in really good performance so, as a team, we are very much looking forward to returning here in two weeks to see the real classification and get back to racing!”

Franz Tost (Team Principal)

“We’ve had three really good test days here in Bahrain and we managed to complete 2,284 km in total. We’ve learnt a lot about the car because we managed to complete so many laps. Both drivers did a fantastic job across all three days, Pierre was very consistent in every session and Yuki performed very well this afternoon. The AT02 seems to be competitive, but we won’t know how representative this is until the first qualifying session here in Bahrain. I would like to thank everyone in the team for the good job which has allowed us to get us into this position and we’re looking forward to the season ahead. I also would like to thank the organisers here at the Bahrain International Circuit for such a warm welcome and for organising a great test.”

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