The 2021 F1 season began with the first day of testing at Bahrain International Circuit. While the teams were hampered by the sandy conditions, Mercedes had a far from ideal start to their year. Here are the stories and statistics from Day 1 at pre-season testing!
Kimi Raikkonen won the race out of the pit lane to be the first driver on track in an official Formula 1 session in 2021. The full eight houts – comprising of two four-hour long sessions – ran with little in the way of interruptions. There was just one red flag period for Charles Leclerc, whose Ferrari came to a halt at the side of the circuit. Sebastian Vettel had earlier stopped at the end of the pit lane in his Aston Martin, but there was no red flag for that incident and Vettel was soon on his way again.
It was an underwhelming start to the year for Mercedes. In recent years, Mercedes have been the team to complete the most laps over pre-season testing, usually with very few teething issues. But it was a different story this morning, as Valtteri Bottas was stuck in the garage after just a single installation lap. A gear shift issue necessitating a subsequent gearbox change meant that the Finn did not run again until the final half an hour of the morning session. Mercedes were the only team not to complete a shakedown of their new car before pre-season testing. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton took the seat in the afternoon and went on to complete 42 laps, setting the tenth fastest time.
Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest lap of the morning for McLaren, with a 1:32.203 being just 0.028 seconds faster than Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri. Gasly completed 74 laps in the morning – more than any other driver. In the afternoon, it was Red Bull who climbed to the top of the timesheet. Verstappen ended the day with a 1:30.674, two tenths faster than the McLaren of Lando Norris. Verstappen completed more laps than any other driver over the course of the day, touring the circuit 139 times. Alpine completed the second most laps, with Esteban Ocon lapping 129 times.
Between them, the drivers completed 1,030 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit today. That’s compared to 1,358 on Day 1 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last year. While weather conditions for the morning session were windy, the drivers were hampered in the afternoon by a sandstorm which had rolled in over the lunch hour. Lance Stroll missed out on running altogether for the first ninety minutes of the afternoon, with what Aston Martin called a “small electrical issue”. Haas’ Mick Schumacher was another driver to suffer mechanical issues. He completed only fifteen laps in the morning after suffering a hydraulic issue and a resulting gearbox change.
BEST LAP TIMES
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:30.674||C3|
|4||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:31.782||PROTOTYPE|
|6||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:31.945||C3|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:33.320||C3|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:33.742||PROTOTYPE|
Testing continues at Bahrain International Circuit tomorrow. Follow @LightsOutF1Blog on Twitter for live updates throughout the day.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.