Day one of pre-season testing ahead of the 2021 Formula One Championship has come to a close, and it did not disappoint.
Motorsport fans across the globe tuned in today to see their favourite teams take 2021’s new contenders to the track.
The day saw a number of gearbox issues, some off-track spins, and the beautiful new liveries saturated in dust amid the sandstorm that joined them on track.
Following today’s action, let’s take a look at what some of the drivers had to say following their first jaunt in their 2021 machines.
Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri #10:
“Everything felt really good with the car this morning, we had a positive start to testing and were able to do a lot of laps – our main goal for today. Running for just three days, it’s important that we make the most of this time on track.
“We managed to complete our full testing programme for the first day and I felt very comfortable in the car. Of course, there are areas that we need to work on and improve but that’s to be expected on the first day.”
Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri #22
“It was great to experience the new car properly for the afternoon session and to complete my first official Formula 1 pre-season test as a Scuderia AlphaTauri driver.
“Obviously, at this stage mileage and data collection are key for me – as a rookie, I want to gain the most out of the only three-days of testing available and learn a lot ahead of the first race here in Bahrain.
“It’s been quite a difficult afternoon session, unfortunately.
“The weather has been bad, with the sand and wind making the conditions tricky to drive in, and then the team discovered an issue with the fuel system in my car.
“This meant that I had to box ahead of the end of the session – they’re investigating it now though and I’ll be ready to head back out on track when the lights turn green for the morning session tomorrow.”
Kimi Räikkönen, Alfa Romeo #7
“First day in the car for me, so it was positive to run without any issue. It was quite windy and the conditions would change from corner to corner, which made it a bit tricky, but it was the same conditions for everyone so it didn’t really make a difference.
“As far as our programme went, it was a typical testing day: we tried different things, made sure everything went as planned and ticked all the boxes on our list.
“It’s pointless to make guesses about where we stand right now, we will have to wait for the first race, but our aim is of course to move further up the grid compared to last year.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo #99
“I think we did a good job, despite the difficult conditions. I am happy with the car and the work the team did, taking into account it was just my first day this year.
“We need to keep working like this for these remaining days, of course, but we have a solid base to build on. After three months outside of the car, coming back behind the steering wheel is always tough, but we were helped by having a smooth day without any issue.
“I am hoping for another busy day like today when I am back in the car tomorrow.”
Mick Schumacher, Haas #47
“It was great to be in a Formula 1 car again, but obviously I’d have loved to have had more laps. It would have been great to get those laps in that we lost sitting in the garage due to the hydraulic issue. Fortunately, we got a few laps in at the end.
“I was happy to take them, happy to be in the car, and happy to push at times and try some things. Conditions weren’t great with a sandstorm coming in, but it was still valuable time in the car. It’s been very gusty here – it makes it very unpredictable; it can feel different from corner to corner really. That’s something you have to get used to.
“F1 cars these days are very wind-affected, any little gust of wind sets off the car massively. I think that’s why we saw quite a few spins and moments on track today. It’ll be interesting to see how it is tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll be better than today and we get to do a lot of laps.”
Nikita Mazepin, Haas #9
“It’s been an amazing day to be honest. I was very fortunate to have a smooth afternoon. As we’ve seen with the first day of running, things don’t always go the way you planned – but it was important to get laps under our belt.
“It was also a very nice feeling to try the car for real after so much hypothetical build-up, and also what you plan to do can be very different in real life. The conditions have been rather challenging because of the amount of sand and wind that we’ve had.
“I’ve been to Bahrain a lot and never seen this much sand, it was challenging, but in this sport you don’t get to choose. All these factors have made for an interesting day and a very good learning day.
“I was also very happy with the physical side of things. Obviously, the graduation from F2 to F1 is rather big, but for a first day I’m very satisfied.”
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren #3
“It was really good to get back out in the car for my first proper session with McLaren. I was able to push the car a little bit and get more familiar with it.
“It was a smooth morning, everything ran well and that’s all you can ask in testing – you want reliability on your side and the team back in Woking has done an awesome job of giving us a great start on day one.
“We got a good amount of runs and laps done, with a focus on getting more and more familiar and comfortable in the car.
“The plan for the next few days is similar, we’re aiming to leave here feeling ready to go for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Happy days!”
Lando Norris, McLaren #4
“First of all, very happy to be back in a Formula 1 car. It’s my first time putting the MCL35M to the test in the dry.
“It’s quite a shock to feel the speed of a Formula 1 car again, it’s been a while since I’ve had that sensation. It was a good shock and it felt nice to be back, but not as nice with the conditions today.
“The second half of the day was very dusty and windy which made it tricky, so it wasn’t the easiest first day back in the car.
“We spent the session going through our test programme, making sure there are no problems with the seat and that I’m comfortable in the car.
“We’ve got some things to work on from that side over the next couple of days. We’ll sit down and review everything this evening, but it’s been a solid first day.”
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin #5
“It was a very productive morning and really the first opportunity we’ve had to truly put the AMR21 through its paces. As I expected, there’s a lot of new things to learn.
“I’m working with a different power unit compared to the past, which means there are lots of different procedures involved, and then there are other things to get used to such as how different the handling is. Then there’s a new steering wheel with all its buttons, different braking too – so I’m very aware that there’s a lot to learn.
“The important thing is that I know where I need to improve. It was tricky on track because it was so windy out there, you could see that everyone out there was fighting a bit for grip.
“Today wasn’t about lap times, it was about finding a good balance in the car and getting a true read on it while collecting lots of important data, which we managed by running 51 laps in the morning session.
“I’m looking forward to going over the data tonight and continuing to make progress with the car. I think we can say it was a good first day for the AMR21.”
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin #18
“It was a good start to testing today, I was happy with the balance of the car. It was really tricky out there and you could feel the effect of the wind on the run down to Turn 1 and you could feel the tailwind at certain corners too.
“I don’t think anybody found it easy out there. It’s early days to be making judgements on the car and we have to remember that this year there’s a cut in downforce, which you can feel in the car, and there are new tyres too.
“The important thing is that we made an encouraging start and it felt good to drive the AMR21.
“We spent the majority of today doing aero mapping and collecting plenty of useful data. It’s great to be back in the car and really feeling the energy of the team.
“It’s a new beginning as Aston Martin, we’re all really excited to get the season going and I’m enjoying working with Sebastian and getting to know how he operates.
“All in all, it’s been a productive session and I definitely enjoyed my day in the AMR21!”
Esteban Ocon, Alpine #31
“Everything went well today, and it was definitely a good first day back at school! It was a solid one for the team, we completed the programme with ease and we even had time at the end of the day to do pit-stop practice with the team, which was quite nice as it meant we could get ourselves back into race situations.
“We put in some decent laps today and we learned everything we set out to achieve and that’s exactly what you need during test days. We faced all kinds of conditions as well: heat this morning then strong gusts and a sandstorm this afternoon, so pretty much everything except rain.
“That was interesting but we did what we needed to, and I look forward to driving the car again later this weekend.”
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari #55
“In general I think today was a positive first day of testing, where the target was to complete our whole run programme and we did it, so happy with that.
“I guess everyone wants to figure out the performance of each car after today, but I think it is way too early to tell and very difficult to know in these kind of conditions – full of sand, very windy, and with big variations in temperatures. All in all, I think we can consider today a very good day.”