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ANALYSIS: Day 1 of Formula 1 pre-season testing

Max Verstappen at Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain. Credits: Red Bull Racing.

An deeper look at what has happened on the opening day of F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain.

This Friday has been the first real opportunity for all Formula 1 teams and drivers to learn more about their new cars and get used to them. For some, the day went fine, but for others, it was a struggle. Let’s find out what has happened today at Bahrain International Circuit.

The start of testing brought a lot of challenges. The main discussion topic was the aero changes of the cars, including the modifications of the floor. Also, the sandstorm brought a lot of sand to the track surface, which made the handling of the cars more difficult.

Day 1 of testing was definitely a good one for several teams: Red Bull, AlphaTauri, McLaren, and Alpine. All these teams showed good results both in terms of performance and reliability. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen led morning and afternoon sessions respectively. Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda put in some competitive lap times as well as Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris. Verstappen and Ocon were also among those who had driven the biggest amount of laps throughout the day. There were no significant issues for any of those teams, so Friday was a successful start for them.

Things did not go too well for the reigning champions Mercedes. At first, the car suffered a sudden gearbox issue, which abrupted the morning session for Valtteri Bottas. Though the problem was fixed, there still seemed to be something wrong with the car. Lewis Hamilton had problems with traction, which affected lap times. All in all, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished 10th and 17th respectively – definitely not how Mercedes expected to begin 2021.

The first testing day indicated that the upcoming season would be very difficult for Haas. Both Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin had quite slow times. The only driver who had a worse result than Schumacher and Mazepin was Valtteri Bottas. Keeping in mind that Haas will not develop the VF-21 car, the American team might be the backmarker in 2021.

Quite naturally, this is not the final rankings as the teams have had their own programmes and some of them have probably not shown their pure speed. The racing action will resume tomorrow at 8 AM CET.

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