Day one of the 2021 season has come to a close at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Today’s practice sessions saw a number of teams at the top of the timesheets battling it out for the fastest laps.
Their performance shows the front pack getting closer and closer to one another on track, which will hopefully lead to a very interesting 2021 season.
After a busy day for the drivers, let’s check-in and see what some of them gathered from their Free Practice programmes:
Lando Norris, #4
“A reasonable first day back in the car. I think we started where we left off in testing, which is a good thing.
“The car has improved in some areas, which is positive, but other areas have got a little bit worse. It’s been a tricky day to put it all together but on the whole I’m happy.
“Here and there we’ve got some work to do for tomorrow, but if we can put it together, hopefully we can be competitive.
“We seem to be very close to AlphaTauri, Ferrari and other cars, so tomorrow will definitely be tight, but we’ll see what we can do.”
Daniel Ricciardo, #3
“I thought having an hour session instead of 90 minutes meant it would be a bit easier, with less time on track – but it was pretty chaotic actually.
“You feel the half-hour. It goes quick. I think it was quite fortunate that we were here a couple of weeks ago, so we could hit the ground running. I think you need to make the most of that track time.
“I’m still getting there, I still want to find a few things in the car and obviously within myself.
“In FP2 I made some inroads, but hopefully I’ll find another step tomorrow to get more where I want to be.”
Mick Schumacher, #47
“FP1 was in really hot conditions, which was something I hadn’t really experienced yet. It was cooking the tires up, and obviously the cockpit as well.
“But it was good for learning – understanding how the car behaves in those conditions. Moving into FP2, we knew the conditions would be completely different.
“Unfortunately, the wind also changed, it was something that everybody had to get used to and some people were struggling with it – so were we.
“Once we got the info on how to approach the corners everything then seemed a bit better. The long run was also interesting for us, and it was more mileage for me really.
“I felt comfortable in the car, which is a good sign and shows that we did enough work to prepare myself to get in and be comfortable.
“I know there’s a lot to improve from my side still, as a driver I know I have the tools to improve the lap time. I’ll be working hard on myself to keep improving and keep learning.”
Nikita Mazepin, #9
“It was very special for me to take part in my first FP1 and FP2 sessions. That alone was very positive. On the technical side the day was quite challenging.
“There’s been a lot of wind around, and it wasn’t very consistent. These cars, compared to Formula 2, are much more effective with the wind in a positive way and also in a negative way.
“The car was quite difficult at times. Being realistic, we were very fortunate with the conditions achieved on the final day of testing, they were very fast.
“The track today was much slower and that made driving today much more challenging – for us at least. With 23 rounds you’re going to experience very different things.
“It’s about getting the most experience banked and that’s definitely happened today.”
“It was a good start to build on the positive feeling we had after testing. Today’s conditions were quite different, it was way hotter in the day, but we are still happy with our pace in both the short and long runs.
“The field looks really tight, so we will need to put everything together to gain places in qualifying. The shorter practice sessions didn’t really affect us much: in the end, we spent a lot of time in the garage in FP1 in the old system anyway so now there is a bit more action on track.
“We now need to go and find another bit of time with the engineers and get ready for qualifying: the target is to get into Q2 and then see what we are able to fight for.”
Kimi Raikkonen, #7
“A regular first day in which we were able to try various things. Even though the conditions were quite different from what we experienced in testing, the feel of the car was similar, which allowed us to take up where we left off two weeks ago.
“We had a solid start and were able to work on the set-up. Of course, losing some time because of the incident was not ideal, but we have already so much data from testing that it wasn’t a big setback.
“We’re looking forward to seeing where we stand tomorrow: we still have to refine a few things tonight but we should be ok.”
“It’s been a good day again and with the heat and the wind it is not easy to find a perfect balance around the whole lap but overall I would say it was a positive day.
“There are still things to improve and look into for tomorrow, tyre wise and a bit of balance tuning, plus I think it will be even more windy which is a challenge for everyone in these cars.
“I am pretty happy with the start of the weekend but tomorrow is a different day and we have to see whether we can do it in qualifying when it counts.”
Sergio Perez, #11
“It feels great to finally get into a race weekend and I’m pleased so far with how things are going. I’m settling in well and taking some steps forwards.
“If I were to summarize today, I’ve got some work to do on the short runs as over one lap I don’t quite feel the car is within me just yet and I still have to think about what the car is doing, but in the long runs I’m more comfortable and I think the pace is there so that’s positive.
“I think we have some work to do on the soft tyre as there is also room for improvement there, but the car is performing well, we have good pace and tomorrow it will be pretty close in qualifying so we need to make sure we get it right and have a good start to the season.”
Pierre Gasly, #10
“I think it’s been a good start to the weekend – the car felt strong in both sessions and I’m happy with it. We didn’t quite put it together this evening, on our fast lap, but overall, I think there are a lot of positives to take-away from today and I’m excited now to see what we can do in qualifying tomorrow.
“The long-run with high fuel, that we completed in preparation for the race, felt strong so I think there are some good signs but it’s obviously only the first day, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
“We’ll fine-tune everything tonight with the engineers and I think we’ll be in a good position for tomorrow.
“I hope that we can get into Q3 in qualifying – that’s our target – and if we manage that we should be in a position to fight for some good points come race day.”
Yuki Tsunoda, #22
“It’s been a great day – I’ve experienced my first practice sessions in the car as a Formula 1 driver and it’s really exciting.
“I think my passion has really shone through today and I’m looking forward to showing my full potential behind the wheel tomorrow in qualifying.
“We’ve got great pace this weekend as a team and I’m keen to see how I perform tomorrow in my first F1 qualifying session.
“I’m still learning a lot in the car and it’s obviously only my first race weekend so I’m keen to not put too much pressure on myself but I’m looking forward to getting out on track for my first race and seeing what we can do.”