Driver reaction: Final day of testing ahead of the 2021 campaign kick off
With just 12 days left until the opening race, only time will tell if there will be a shake-up at the front of the grid this season.
The curtain has quickly closed on pre-season testing in Bahrain ahead of the 2021 campaign kick-off.
Spectators watched on over the weekend as each team condensed their testing schedules into just three days, scrambling to gain as much information about the new cars as possible.
Now, with just 12 days left until the opening race, only time will tell if there will be a shake-up at the front of the grid after the usual favourites, Mercedes, run into a number of issues with the W12.
Here’s what some of the drivers have to say about day three of testing, and just how ‘ready’ they are for March 28’s race:
Yuki Tsunoda #22:
“Jumping out of the car in P2 today is a great feeling – of course you can’t get too ahead of yourself, as it’s only testing, but it’s great to finish the three days on a high.
“I’ve learned so much over the last few days and collected crucial data for the team that we’ll now go back and analyse ahead of the first race.
“I think for me it’s great that we’re returning here so soon for the start of the season as I’ve managed to complete a lot of running here now and understand the track well.
“We’ve had a few small teething problems but that’s exactly what you’d expect from testing – we’re here to work everything out so we have the best possible package available to us come race day.
“I’ll continue working hard over the next few weeks and I’m excited for it to start!”
Pierre Gasly #10:
“Now that the three days of testing are over, I can’t wait to start racing, we’ve managed to complete our full testing schedule and have a good understanding of everything.
“Preparing for the race, we know the car’s strengths and we know where we can still make some improvements.
“I feel confident in the car and I think we’re in a much better place than we were this time last year. I think we know where we’ll be fast, and we have understood how to work on the car further.
“I really hope we can be in the fight this season and get some good points.
“Honda have also done a great job with the Power Unit and so far, we’re really happy with it – it’s a strong step forward, compared to last year, and the reliability has been perfect all three days, which is really positive.
“I’m excited for us to get to qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix because I think that’s when we’ll really see what everyone can do.”
“Obviously, it was a bit sad that this was the last day of testing before driving here on the grand prix weekend. Nevertheless, we have 23 races coming up this season, which is great.
“Again, it was a good productive day for me with a lot of laps – that’s always good. We’ve caught up with the losses from the first day. In general, I’d say we’re happy with how the test has gone.
“Day one was obviously a bit of shame as we lost opportunities for running but we’ve caught up and we got some pit stops in yesterday too. I’ve been able to experience day and night driving here, which was amazing.
“I’m very impatient to get going with the season now and I’m very much looking forward to it. It can’t come soon enough.
“I feel prepared and I’m very ready.”
Nikita Mazepin, #9:
“The conditions were very nice out there today, certainly in comparison to Friday’s afternoon session – when the conditions weren’t good for getting the performance out of the car.
“That said, for a rookie, it was a great learning experience to see how the car behaves with less grip. Today we focused in on low fuel runs for the first part of the afternoon and then we moved on to high fuel.
“We then finished off with some very productive pit stops.
“Testing’s been fun – and a very good learning curve. We started with very difficult conditions on day one, then we’ve progressed towards a more grippy track which means more opportunities to attract a lap time.
“The year is going to be long, but I think we’ve got the most out of these three days and the team’s done a great job.”
George Russell #63:
“It was a very productive day and we put a lot of laps on the board, 158 in the end. The team did a great job over these three days, we have had no reliability issues, and everything ran smoothly.
“Ultimately performance is what we are here for and I think we have a lot to analyse. Some of our competitors do seem very quick, but equally, I think the conditions did not always favour us.
“We have lots to analyse but overall, it has been a positive test for the team.”
Lando Norris: #4:
“Our last day in the car was good. We struggled with a few things which is, in a way, bad and good. You never want to run into issues, but it’s good we’ve learned about the car and have time to address it before we come back for the race.
“So, positives and negatives, but all in all it’s a positive, and this is exactly what we’re here to do during the test. It’s nice to be back at a track and I feel like I’m in a good place going into the race in a couple of weeks, so I’m excited to come back.
“A big thanks to the guys here at track and back in the factory, as well as the team at Mercedes HPP, for their hard work. It’s been a good few days of pre-season testing.”
Daniel Ricciardo #3:
“So that wraps up the test. Im really happy to have got it done reliably with no real issues or concerns, it’s been a really smooth three days.
“I’m really thankful to the team, both here at the track and back at the factory, for putting together a good car for these days at the test.
“They’ve really made me feel at home, so I’m feeling comfortable and I can’t wait to come back here and get on track for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas #77:
“Day one was compromised for me so I’m pleased the past two days have been efficient and clean. Today, like yesterday, we had plenty of laps and ran good quality tests.
“I’m still not entirely comfortable but we’ve been moving forward and getting better. There’s still more work to do; we’ve collected lots of data over these past few days which we will analyse to help us make the car faster ahead of the first race.
“Time is even more limited now with the recent changes but our recovery from the first day has been very good.
“I absolutely believe that the car and team has the potential to fight for the title. I don’t think the package is quite there yet in terms of performance but I have no doubt it will be.
“I feel like I’ve had enough time in the car, performing short runs and long runs, and I really feel comfortable and confident. From my side I’m ready and as a team, we will be ready.”
Lewis Hamilton #44:
“I’ve never been a massive fan of testing, I just love racing! It’s probably the only year I would have asked for more days though because we’ve got lots of work to do.
“We’ve never felt in the past that we were quicker than everyone else after testing because you never know what people are doing with the fuel and set-ups.
“We always just focus on understanding our car the best way we can so if I’m honest, I feel the same this year. We won’t know until we get to qualifying in two weeks’ time exactly where we stand.
“Today we made some improvements but it’s still not where we want to be. I can’t pick out any one area, it just feels globally through the lap that we need to improve.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into competition and back in that focus mode. Our team is all rowing in the same boat – we win and we lose together.
“I’m just happy to start another journey together with these boys and girls.”