After a long wait, the 2021 season of Formula One finally kicked off with the much-awaited pre-season testing on Friday. It was an action-packed day in sandstorm-hit Bahrain as all the teams got their first laps ahead of the new season. While some of them impressed, it was a disappointing outing for others.
Verstappen shines while Hamilton struggles
Red Bull's Max Verstappen emerged as the fastest driver on Day 1 of testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. The Dutch completed a mammoth 138 laps and his timing of 1:30.674 was two tenths of a second quicker than all his rivals on track. Verstappen, who finished P3 in 2020, has definitely made a strong statement that he is ready to challenge the Mercedes for title in 2021.
On the other hand, the 2020 constructors' winners Mercedes had a horrific start to the new season. A gearbox issue restricted Valtteri Bottas to only 6 laps on Friday. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton uncharacteristically struggled for grip and had to settle for 10th spot on Day 1.
Impressive outing for McLaren & Aston Martin
McLaren's Lando Norris was the second fastest driver on Day 1 and certainly looked impressive in Bahrain. His new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo kicked off his Mclaren career with a solid seventh place finish. The team powered by a Mercedes engine in 2021 has certainly started off their pre-season testing in emphatic fashion.
The new entrant to F1 in 2021, Aston Martin also had a decent outing on Friday. While Lance Stroll emerged as the 4th fastest driver on track, veteran Sebastian Vettel also looked good in his first outing for the new team as he registered 51 laps.
Youngsters rule on Day 1 in Bahrain
The first day in Bahrain undoubtedly belonged to the youngsters. Alpine's Esteban Ocon finished with a scintillating 3rd fastest time while Ferrari's new boy Carlos Sainz kicked off with an impressive 5th-place. While Nikita Mazepin registered 69 laps with Haas, his teammate Mick Schumacher unfortunately had to face a gearbox issue that hampered his Debut outing.
Watch the highlights here:
The 3-day pre-season testing will continue with the second day scheduled on Saturday. Red Bull's latest signing Sergio Perez is expected to make his first outing. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso is also set to make his much-awaited Debut for Alpine on Day 2.