Pre-season testing came to a close on Saturday afternoon as the teams look towards the first race of the season this weekend.
It was an action-packed few days of testing, with promising improvements across the field as sweeping regulation changes look set to shake things up.
From red flags, flying debris, one fire, Mercedes’s radical changes and the last-minute return of one Formula One driver to the paddock, here is what some of the drivers had to say.
Max Verstappen, “The main focus today was testing the tyres we are going to use next week. The car felt alright and we completed the programme we set out to do, so that’s always positive.
“No one gives full beans or goes to qualifying spec at testing, so we can’t read too much into the timing screens. The new parts we tested today worked well which is what we always hope for.”
Sergio Perez, “This morning was good. We have definitely learned a lot throughout this testing period and I think there is still so much to learn. There are lots of areas for improvement to arrive at the best performance package possible.
“Generally, we had a positive day and now I’m just looking forward to the race next weekend.”
Lewis Hamilton, “We have some hurdles to overcome and obviously next week we’ll get a much better showing of our pace. I’m sure everyone can figure out that we are not the quickest at the moment.
“There is potential within our car to get us there but we’ve just got to learn to be able to extract it and fix some of the problems, which is what we’re working flat-out on. I think everyone struggled out on this bumpy track and we come out of testing knowing that we still have a lot of work to do.
“There’s a confidence within the team that we can always work through whatever problem we’re facing and that’s what we’ll do. I have all the faith in the men and women back at the factories to get on top of our issues. One thing is for certain, we’ll be bringing our fighting spirit to the first race next weekend!”
George Russell, “It’s been a productive few days and very intriguing at the same time, with so much to learn about these 2022 cars and tyres. We got through our programme with few reliability issues so great from that perspective.
“We were trying to get every last bit of performance out of the car and push the limits and when you’re doing that, you’re bouncing around a lot! It’s not the most comfortable but I don’t really care about comfort as long as the performance is there.
“At the moment, we seem a step behind our rivals and we have a lot of work to do between now and next week to better understand the car. There’s a lot of potential in the W13 and I believe our guys are going to get to the bottom of it, we just need to find a way to unlock our performance.
“The bouncing is affecting our ability to put the car in the right window and the team are working incredibly hard to find solutions for this. This is a long game and I do believe our performance is there, we’ve just got to find it.”
Pierre Gasly, “It’s good to be back to the nice weather here in Bahrain. We’ve had a pretty smooth test from our side, we completed all the program that we had planned for the three days here.
“We had a lot of question marks coming here and we’ve already managed to get some answers to these. I think we still need to sit down for a few days and review all the data we’ve collected, to try and put the puzzle together, so we can get the best possible car for next weekend.
“Obviously, it’s a new car so there are lots of things to learn, I would say there are still areas that we need to improve for the season but that’s part of the game when you have such a big change in F1. We have a rough idea of where we might be in the midfield, but we still don’t know where we’ll be until next week.
“It was great having the battle out there with Lewis today, we overtook each other a few times. Following definitely felt like an improvement to the previous car so that’s a big positive for the upcoming season, racing should be quite fun this year.”
Yuki Tsunoda, “We’ve made good progress as a team this week, I’m happy with how this test has gone and we’ve gathered a lot of important data. However, I’m not happy with how my lap went today on the C5 tyre, I think there was lots more potential there but unfortunately, I just couldn’t put it together.
“There are still lots of things to improve myself, and the car, but I think overall it’s been a good few days of testing. I haven’t driven too much around other cars, but from what I’ve felt so far I think the dirty air is reduced a lot compared to last year, so it’s already easier to follow and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve got a good level of confidence heading into the first race next week.
“It’s a bit different to last year, as I’ve got more experience, and have focussed more on developing the car with the team. We don’t know exactly what position we’re in at the moment, but we’ve got a couple of days to work before Bahrain. We’ve got a good team and we’ll keep focussed ahead of the first race.”
Zhou Guanyu, “It feels good to finish pre-season testing with a strong day: I feel we made another step forward. It’s nice to see constant progress from the team every day and to be able to get some proper short and long runs on a day when it all came together.
“I had my busiest day in the car and I was also able to go through the procedures that we’ll use during next week’s race weekend: there’s a lot for me to take in tonight but I can be satisfied with the work we have done in pre-season.
“The team did a great job making me feel at ease and giving me the tools to prepare properly. I feel I am fully ready for the start of the season.”
Valtteri Bottas, “A very positive day up until the issue that stopped us at the end of the day. We definitely learnt a lot more here in Bahrain than in Barcelona: there are still a few little issues to be solved but I can really say that the car’s potential is there and, by the end of the day, I was really starting to enjoy it.
“We need to make sure we address all issues and make sure they don’t happen again, but I am confident we will take the next few days to do so. Looking at our performance, we learnt a lot about our car and we will keep learning next week. I am ready, we as a team are ready and I can’t wait to race.”
Kevin Magnussen, “The car has had a few issues and reliability is the main thing we’re working on to be able to run the whole race – that’s the biggest job for us to do. Performance-wise, we have a rough idea. We’ve seen some good trends in the car and we’ll see next week where we stack up but at least the feeling is pretty good.”
Mick Schumacher, “In summary, we obviously haven’t been driving as much as we would’ve liked to. It’s a matter of are we quick or not and that’s what is positive – we are.
“We have a good car, we have something we can work with so everyone can be really happy and proud of themselves that we’ve achieved that. Now we have to be able to put it down on track when it matters, and that’s next week. I’m very much looking forward to what’s coming this year.”
Alex Albon, “Pre-season testing is now finished and next time we’re out on track it will finally be a race weekend!
“We got some good mileage in over the course of the test and I feel like we’ve ticked all our boxes, despite losing some time on Friday. In terms of the car’s performance, I think there’s some more to come from us and I’m excited to keep pushing next weekend and throughout the course of the season to get the most out of the FW44.
“Overall, it’s been a positive and incredibly valuable test and the team have done a great job, especially in some challenging circumstances.”
Nicholas Latifi, “There was a lot of good teamwork from both the day and night crew to get the car repaired and all the engineers pulled together to put us in the best position to maximise day three.
“We did a lot of good work, learned a lot and did a lot of laps. That was good for me to try to make up the lost mileage from yesterday and now there’s a lot of data to go over to see how we can be in the best shape possible for the first race next week.”