Verstappen ends first day of F1 pre-season testing on top

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has topped the first day of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain, as Mercedes' 2021 campaign got off to a low-key start.

Verstappen ends first day of F1 pre-season testing on top
Listen to this article

In the final hour of the afternoon, Verstappen clocked a time of 1m30.674s with medium tyres on his RB16B to stay on top until the chequered flag.

As expected, the four-hour session was plagued by a sandstorm which lowered visibility and grip levels at the Bahrain International Circuit.

In the opening stages, few cars ventured out on track and those who did gingerly got to grips with the conditions.

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin posted the ninth time overall early on, the first driver to dislodge any of the 10 morning runners.

The Russian was soon joined by AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, who set the eighth-fastest time in the opening hour on his official F1 testing debut.

Carlos Sainz then made his first appearance in the Ferrari SF21, some three hours after teammate Charles Leclerc had to park the car with mechanical issues.

Sainz was one of several drivers to lock his tyres and slide off on Sakhir's sandy surface, with Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi also coming out early doors to acclimate to both the circuit and his updated Alfa Romeo.

World champion Lewis Hamilton waited until just before the hour mark to make his first appearance of the 2021 season, starting his afternoon shift with seven exploratory laps aboard the W12.

Read Also:

In the second hour, Giovinazzi was the first driver to set a solid time, posting a 1m32.860s on hard C2 tyres to go fourth in the Alfa, closely followed by Norris in the McLaren.

That encouraged Verstappen to have a crack at a fast laptime. Around 1h30 into the session, the Dutchman beat Daniel Ricciardo's morning time by seven tenths, setting the new benchmark at 1m31.412s on hard tyres.

Giovinazzi then went second in the Alfa only to be overhauled at the halfway mark by Norris, who posted a 1m31.809 on hard tyres.

During the latter half of the session desert sands continued to filter out a setting sun, but the track's floodlights pierced their way through the dust cover to provide some welcome visibility.

Under the lights, Alpine's Esteban Ocon delivered a solid soft-shod lap in the Alpine to take second.

In the final hour, Verstappen found some more pace on the mediums to clock a 1m30.674, going nine tenths clear of Ocon.

The Frenchman responded by taking half a second out of his personal best on the soft Pirelli tyres, his 1m31.146s half a second shy of the Red Bull.

In the final 30 minutes, Norris then leapfrogged Ocon with a 1m30.889 on mediums, demoting Ocon to third.

Lance Stroll's afternoon was delayed by what Aston Martin called a "small electrical issue" on his AMR21, but the Canadian came through to take fourth in the closing stages by setting a 1m31.782s on mediums.

Sainz suffered a spin during his afternoon stint but finished fifth with a late 1m31.919s on medium Pirellis.

Behind sixth-placed Giovinazzi, Ricciardo's morning time held up for seventh place on the day, ahead of AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Tsunoda.

Read Also:

Hamilton rounded off a low-key start to his title defence with tenth place, 2.238s down on Verstappen's benchmark.

After teammate Valtteri Bottas only managed six morning laps due to an undiagnosed gearbox issue, Hamilton added just 42 laps of his own, meaning Mercedes fell well short of completing their run plan.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was 11th, followed by fellow morning runners Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Williams test driver Roy Nissany added to his morning tally to finish 14th, ahead of Haas youngsters Mazepin and Schumacher as well as Bottas.

In addition to setting the pace, Verstappen also logged the most miles on the day, turning a massive 139 laps.

Testing resumes on Saturday with two more four-hour sessions, followed by Sunday's third and final 2021 pre-season testing day.

 
Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 139 1'30.674  
2 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 46 1'30.889 0.215
3 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 129 1'31.146 0.472
4 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 46 1'31.782 1.108
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 57 1'31.919 1.245
6 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 68 1'31.945 1.271
7 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 45 1'32.203 1.529
8 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 74 1'32.231 1.557
9 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 37 1'32.727 2.053
10 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 42 1'32.912 2.238
11 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 59 1'33.242 2.568
12 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 63 1'33.320 2.646
13 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 51 1'33.742 3.068
14 Israel Roy Nissany Williams 83 1'34.789 4.115
15 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 70 1'34.798 4.124
16 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 15 1'36.127 5.453
17 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 6 1'36.850 6.176
shares
comments

Related video

McLaren set to share Mercedes F1 reserve drivers again
Previous article

McLaren set to share Mercedes F1 reserve drivers again

Next article

Bottas hopes Mercedes can recover time after "not ideal" start

Bottas hopes Mercedes can recover time after "not ideal" start
Load comments
The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move Prime

The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move

OPINION: Uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's future has persisted since the race direction call that denied him an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last month. But while walking away would be understandable, Hamilton has time and again responded well in the face of adversity and possesses all the tools needed to bounce back stronger than ever

What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility Prime

What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2022
The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022