Preseason testing has come to a close, meaning teams have just days to implement any necessary changes to their machinery before the opening race of the season next weekend in Bahrain.
Although any real potential won’t be seen until all 20 cars hit the track for some competitive racing next weekend, fans were given a glimpse into which teams are coming out as early favourites during testing.
It’s been a hectic few days in the desert, so here are the highlights from Day 3 of preseason testing:
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Perez out front on the final day of testing
Sergio Perez set the fastest time on the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain. After a weekend of top results, Red Bull enter into the opening race of the season as early favourites.
“We’ve certainly got a good base car, something we can work with,” said Perez, who retired from last year’s opening race along with his team-mate. “I think we will only find out next weekend where we really are.
“We want to be up there. It will be an important weekend, conditions are going to be a bit similar to what we just experienced tonight. So it would be great to start the season much stronger than we did last year”.
Mercedes behind Red Bull on softer tyres
Lewis Hamilton finished the final day around four tenths behind Perez in second. However, the seven-time world champion’s best time was set on a softer – therefore faster – tyre than the Red Bull.
Speaking as the session ended, Hamilton said: “It has been an interesting few days here in Bahrain.
“There has been a lot of discovery and the whole team has approached it with the same mentality, working hard, not being complacent and staying focused.
“We’re not quite where we want to be but it’s a good platform to start from. We don’t know where we will be next week, but we will stay positive and continue to push to the maximum.
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George Russell said: “We had a much more positive day today. We took a step forward and made progress with the issues we faced yesterday. I believe we have improved the car over the course of testing and got the W14 in a much better window today.
“There is still plenty of work to do but we’re in better shape for next week with more to come”.
Ferrari opts for long runs
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz carried out long runs on Day 3 while Perez and Hamilton put in several flying laps. Sainz did some soft-tyre runs early on (to create optimal conditions)and finished fifth, 12 thousandths of a second behind Leclerc.
Sainz said: “We finished the test without any issues and completed the full run plan that we had for these three days. So first of all, thank you very much to the entire team here and in Maranello.
“Today we focused on both short and long runs to finish the assessment of some of the parameters that we wanted to test. Now we will focus on analysing the data, in order to arrive at the first GP of the year as well prepared as possible. I’m looking forward to racing here next week”.
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Charles Leclerc added: “We have three very intensive days of testing behind us. The first day was all about running big scans and trying to understand how well our data matches what we predicted at the factory.
“What we learned is that there is quite a good correlation. We focused a lot on set-up work this week and made some good steps forward. I also tried out some different driving styles to test what suits me best in this new car.
“We’ll be back next week for the opening race of the season and it will be interesting to see where all teams stand in relation to their closest competitors”.
Trouble for McLaren
McLaren continued to face issues with the wheel brows on their MCL60 – running the fewest laps across the three days.
This meant Lando Norris only managed 11th while Rookie, Oscar Piastri, finished 16th.
Speaking after testing, Lando Norris said: “A decent three days here in Bahrain. First of all it’s good to be back in a car. Second of all a big improvement from our test last year, getting so many laps under our belt, so the team have done a good job, a big thanks goes to them.
“We know there’s a few things we still need to improve on, but we’re in a reasonable place heading into race week. We’ve gathered a lot of data, which we’ll be analysing thoroughly ahead of next week.
“We’ll be working hard to get as much lap time out of the car and look to get the development of the MCL60 underway”.
Oscar Piastri added: “Day three done. It wasn’t the smoothest of mornings as we had a few issues with the car. I didn’t get as many laps in as we would have liked. But nonetheless we still got some good running, and I’m still learning all the time, which is good.
“I think we’re in reasonable shape for next week, some more laps would be lovely but that’s always the case. It’s been a good few days of working with the team, getting the season underway, thanks to them for their support.
“I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot and I’m looking forward to getting out for my first race next week”.