Red Bull snatched the fastest time from Mercedes on the final day of Formula 1 2021 pre-season testing. Max Verstappen set the fastest lap of the winter tests at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sunday’s showdown.
After Valtteri Bottas had set a new best time in testing on Saturday with the C5 tire, the answer was not long in coming. Max Verstappen promptly reclaimed the best time with 1:28.960 time on Pirelli’s C4 tires. The Dutchman was not the only one to beat Bottas’ time.
Seven other drivers went faster than the Finn in the evening hours on the final day. Behind Verstappen was Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese rookie in the service of AlphaTauri only lost a tenth of a second on the C5 tyre. The third fastest time went to Ferrari. Carlos Sainz, however, was already more than half a second behind Verstappen on C4.
Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen was the last driver to stay within a second of the fastest time. The Iceman relegated Hamilton to fifth place. George Russell in the Williams was close behind. The trio in positions four to six set their times on C5. Behind them, no other driver followed on the softest compound.
Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez followed on C4. The Mexican, however, set his lap time in the morning session in warmer temperatures. Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc completed the top 10. Mick Schumacher completed his first winter testing session in 15th place behind Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin. Aston Martin brought up the rear with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll.
There were also some incidents in the last session:
Teams and drivers made the most of their time at the Bahrain International Circuit at the end of testing. Only long runs were completed in the morning. Neither technology nor the search for the limit threw the participants off track until the lunch break.
In the afternoon, the pace became sharper. Tsunoda spun in turn seven when he ran into Raikkonen during his long run. The Japanese returned to the pits and continued his programme in the AlphaTauri as planned after a tyre change. His misstep was not the only one on the day. With around 20 minutes to go, Hamilton spun at the exit of the final corner as he gathered momentum for a fast lap.
The “defect devil” kept a low profile for a long time on Sunday. It was only in the late hours that two teams were afflicted by him. Once again it was Aston Martin. One and a half hours before the end of the session, Vettel returned his AMR21 to the pits. The mechanics immediately started to work on the turbocharger, but for the new team leader, this was also the premature end of the last test day.
A little later, Carlos Sainz was caught out. The Spaniard got stuck in fourth gear and sneaked back to the pits, where his mechanics found a hydraulic problem with the Ferrari. After an hour, the problem was solved. Unlike Vettel, he returned to the track once more to continue his program. In the final minute, there was almost a collision between Sainz and Raikkonen, who disagreed about the right of way in turn eleven.