Pre-season testing kicked off this morning in Bahrain, and as the morning session reaches the halfway mark, it’s already proving to be a busy day across the board.
Among the drivers jumping behind the wheel for the first half of the session were Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher.
While no one was seen to be pushing their machines to the limit, some action was seen in the physical launch of the Haas VF-21, Max Verstappen taking an early spin – with no repercussions thankfully – and Mercedes returning to the pits for a gearbox change.
Going to have to keep you waiting a little longer for a proper look at W12…
And we had a video and everything. 🙃
We have a gearshift problem and are swapping the gearbox to get back out on track for our first real run! 🙏
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 12, 2021
The team confirmed the issue on social media after spectators noticed an early retirement to the pits for the world champions.
According to the team it had opted for a gearbox change to minimise time lost on track today.
Given the condensed three days of testing, any time lost could be detrimental this year.
It’s understood the team is working to switch that gearbox out quickly, to see Valtteri Bottas return to the track before the morning is out.
An investigation into the exact issue will take place at a later point.
Speaking to Sky Sports about the issues, Martin Brundle said:
“It’s surprising, and I’m sure no one is more surprised than they are.
“With the gearbox dynos they’ve got, you’d think those gremlins would have been shaken out the system by the time we got here.
“Losing half a day within a three-day test… it’s very significant if you start losing time.”
Meanwhile, just weeks ago, the Mercedes team met a number of engine issues, however, the team has said they’re confident everything will be sorted by the first race.
In a video released by the dominant F1 team’s Chief Engineer Hywel Thomas said:
“We have got some issues with the power units.
“We know we have issues but we have plenty of plans in place to fix all of those issues.
“I’m sure it will all be ready for the first race.”
Great new website. I will be using it to follow this yesrs F1 season.