F1 testing 2021, Day 1: Cars revealed in full; Mercedes hits trouble; Red Bull on top


The first day of Formula 1 testing in 2021 is underway, as teams prepare for the new season with upgraded cars and design innovations

F1 2021 cars on track ahead of testing

This year's cars on show ahead of this morning's testing

Florent Gooden / DPPI

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.


PM Session

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

Position Driver Team Time Tyre Laps completed
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
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1min32.231sec C3 74
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1min 32.727sec C2 37
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 32.912sec C2 42
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1min33.242sec C3 59
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