Red Bull ends F1 pre-season on top
By Mat Coch
Monday 15th March, 2021 - 8:10am
Red Bull ended Formula 1’s pre-season test in a strong position courtesy of Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman went fastest as he and team-mate Sergio Perez completed a programme that saw them log nearly 2000 kilometres in three days.
On the final day of running at the Bahrain International Circuit, they were closely followed by Yuki Tsunoda for AlphaTauri, who was less than 0.1s away from Verstappen’s best at the end of proceedings.
In the morning session, Perez set the pace in the best conditions of the test to that point.
It was a busy morning with Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) banking 91 laps and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 86.
Across the 10 drivers in action, a combined total of 734 laps were logged before lunch time.
Raikkonen and George Russell (Williams) were the only two to complete the entire day, though most teams worked through longer runs.
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) ended the morning second best to Perez, though his time came within the opening 30 minutes of the session commencing, while the track was still dusty.
Again demonstrating McLaren’s potential, Lando Norris ended the morning third fastest before handing over to Daniel Ricciardo.
Predictably, the afternoon session was faster; Ricciardo improved on Norris’ 1:30.661 by 0.6s, though finished the day as the seventh fastest driver.
Second fastest Tsunoda banked 91 laps after taking over from Pierre Gasly, helping his squad to record the equal most number of laps across the three days of testing with Alfa Romeo.
Both squads recorded 422 laps, almost 2300 kilometres of running.
By contrast, Mercedes, which sat out much of Friday morning when Bottas suffered a gearbox problem, recorded the least with just 304 laps, or less than 1650 kilometres.
Aston Martin finished the test in a similar position, with 1699 kilometres after Sebastian Vettel had a problem with his Mercedes gearbox on Saturday morning.
Despite the comparative lack of running, there were signs of improvement from Mercedes after it had bounced back on Saturday from its difficult opening to the test.
Hamilton was fifth quickest on the final day, and while Bottas was third slowest he lapped reliably to bank a good number of miles.
Though Perez was fastest for the morning, his ultimate pace was masked.
He twice ventured out on new soft compound tyres but circled back to the lane for pitstop practice on both occasions.
Indeed, of the test Red Bull looks to have emerged having taken a clear step; aided by Honda as evidenced by AlphaTauri’s performance, and Tsunoda’s efforts on Sunday afternoon.
Verstappen’s best of the day came on ragged lap while using a set of medium compound tyres.
Later in the day he went faster in the middle sector, but didn’t ultimately improve on his earlier effort which stood as the day’s best.
Ferrari’s performance was something of a mixed bag, and while it ran without problems throughout, it doesn’t appear as settled as the Mercedes or Red Bull.
That the Scuderia logged the third highest mileage throughout the test is positive for its new power unit; the Ferrari-powered Haas too ended proceedings with solid laps despite sitting out much of Friday morning.
Indeed, Ferrari-shod cars recorded a total of more than 6600 kilometres of running, the second highest of any engine manufacturer despite being sported by just three teams.
It was only 500 km shy of Mercedes, while Honda and Renault were predictably lower owing to the fact their units are bolted into three teams between them.
Given that fact, Alpine’s 396 laps meant its engine got the same workout as the Ferrari over the weekend, and Honda’s received a similar amount.
Pre-season testing has now concluded, with teams next on track for the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 26-28.
Result: Day 3, Formula 1 Pre-season testing
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||C4||64||1:28.960|
|Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||C5||166||1:29.766||0.806|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||C4||49||1:30.187||1.227|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||C3||56||1:35.041||6.081|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||C3||80||1:36.100||7.140|