Red Bull topped the first day of 2021 F1 testing as Max Verstappen logged 139 laps for the team.
Mercedes lost out in the first Formula 1 test session of 2021, with its car spending most of the morning in the garage with a gearbox issue. Valtteri Bottas eventually completed just six laps before his day ended and he handed over to Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon.
AlphaTauri clocked up 74 laps in Bahrain in the first session, which began at 10am local time, 7am GMT.
Kimi Räikkönen was the first driver on track, swiftly followed by Sebastian Vettel in his new Aston Martin, and Daniel Ricciardo who has moved to McLaren. Others were out soon afterwards as they looked to maximise the time on track in a compressed test this year, which lasts for only three days.
After secretive launches where parts of the cars were kept hidden, the cars were finally revealed in 2021-spec for the first time.
It’s the first opportunity to see exactly how they are seeking to recover the downforce lost by rule changes this year, most notably with vanes, loops and strakes appearing on the floors at the rear of cars.
In addition, the new Alpine, which replaces last year’s Renault, showed off a bulging airbox that provoked comparisons with the Ligier JS5 from 1976.
The opening minutes of testing were devoted to installation laps and data collection with aero rakes, providing no indication of performance as yet.
We’re more likely to see maximum-attack laps later in the three-day test session, as teams work through their programs.
There have been lock-ups and a half-spin for Max Verstappen, but all cars remained on the track for the first two hours, despite windy conditions. An issue for Vettel in the Aston Martin left him stranded at the end of the pitlane and a problem for Charles Leclerc at the end of the morning caused a red flag when he stopped on track.
The sandstorm that had threatened all morning materialised in the lunch break and coated the track in sand in the hour break.
Esteban Ocon and Nikita Mazepin for Alpine and Haas respectively braved the conditions as visibility grew worse and worse.
A seriously dusty track surface presented tricky conditions for drivers to contend with and a headache for those playing catch-up, particularly Mercedes.
It was a slow start to the afternoon for the reigning champions as well, Lewis Hamilton only emerging from the garage a long time after the lights went green.
The team opted to stick to its original run plan driver-wise, with Bottas making way for his team-mate but it didn’t set the timing screens ablaze after missing the majority of the earlier session.
Ocon was the first to break the 100-lap barrier, ploughing on in the dusty air on race runs and hard tyres for the majority of the afternoon.
Yuki Tsunoda promoted AlphaTauri into the 100 club as well by mid afternoon as the Faenza team looked solid out on track, stable and well-behaved in the corners.
Lando Norris replaced Ricciardo at McLaren and was the first to make a marked improvement in the session, moving P2 behind the session-topping time of Verstappen from the morning.
Hamilton moved up to P9 after halfway, setting a 1min 32.912sec on C2 hard compound tyres, the preference of the majority for the afternoon.
He slipped to P10 but couldn’t hook up a lap in the latter stages, running off track three times late on in what was a wretched day for Mercedes.
Ocon moved himself up to P2 with a 1min 31.626sec with just under two hours remaining. After Ferrari conked out to end the morning, Carlos Sainz put in a fairly anonymous afternoon, including a spin at Turn 11 after getting out wide on the settled sand as night set in.
Verstappen improved his session-topping time on the C3 mediums, setting a 1min 30.674sec to go further clear.
Aston Martin swapped drivers for the PM session but both Vettel and Lance Stroll ran out of shot and down the order until late on. A time on the C3 prototype tyres put the Canadian P4 on a 1min 31.782sec.
McLaren logged plenty of laps on a positive first day back using Mercedes power. Norris went P2 in the final half hour, 1min 30.689sec enough to go P2 within 0.3sec of Red Bull on the C3 tyres.
2021 testing times
Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest driver in the morning, with a 1min 32.203sec lap. Verstappen put Red Bull on top at the end of day one on a 1min 30.674sec.
The lap times are still much slower than Lewis Hamilton’s 1min 27.264sec qualifying lap at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but teams are not yet focused on maximum speed runs.
F1 testing day one final results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1min 30.674sec||C3 (Med)||139|
|2||Lando Norris||McLaren||1min 30.889sec||C3||46|
|3||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||1min 31.146sec||C4 (soft)||129|
|4||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1min 31.782sec||C3 Proto||46|
|5||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||1min 31.919sec||C3||57|
|6||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1min 31.945sec||C3||68|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||1min 32.203sec||C2 (Hard)||45|
|9||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||1min 32.727sec||C2||37|
|10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1min 32.912sec||C2||42|
|12||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo||1min 33.320sec||C3||63|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1min 33.742sec||C3 Proto||51|
|14||Roy Nissany||Williams||1min 34.789sec||C3||83|
|15||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||1min 34.798sec||C3||70|
|16||Mick Schumacher||Haas||1min 36.127sec||C2||15|
|17||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1min 36.850sec||C2||6|
2021 testing driver schedule
Teams are running a single car, with most splitting the first day between team-mates. However, some drivers are being given a full day in the car, including Williams test driver Roy Nissany.
Below is the schedule for Friday.
|Team||Morning session||Afternoon session|
|Mercedes||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Max Verstappen|
|McLaren||Daniel Ricciardo||Lando Norris|
|Aston Martin||Sebastian Vettel||Lance Stroll|
|Alpine||Esteban Ocon||Esteban Ocon|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc||Carlos Sainz|
|AlphaTauri||Pierre Gasly||Yuki Tsunoda|
|Alfa Romeo||Kimi Räikkönen||Antonio Giovinazzi|
|Haas||Mick Schumacher||Nikita Mazepin|
|Williams||Roy Nissany||Roy Nissany|
What time does testing start?
Testing starts each day at 10am Bahrain time, 7am GMT. The morning session runs for four hours. After a break, the afternoon session starts at 3pm, 12pm GMT, which lasts for a further four hours.
Bahrain time zone
Local time in Bahrain is three hours ahead of GMT, so sessions start mid-morning local time and the testing day runs into the evening, ending at 7pm