Welcome at RacingNews365

Become part of the largest racing community in the United Kingdom. Create your free account now!

  • Share your thoughts and opinions about F1
  • Win fantastic prizes
  • Get access to our premium content
  • Take advantage of more exclusive benefits
Sign in
Pre-season test F1

What we learned from day two of 2021 F1 pre-season testing

Mercedes ended the day on top as they bounced back from a difficult start to pre-season testing. RacingNews365.com gives you a round-up of how things played out, who had a good day at the office and who has work to do for Sunday.

Bottas Bahrain
To news overview © Pirelli

There were no sandstorms at the Bahrain International Circuit on day two of of F1 pre-season testing but there was a lot running or urgency from the teams and drivers to get through their programmes and gather data. Valtteri Bottas produced the quickest time of the event so far with Pierre Gasly just behind in second place.

It was the longer runs where things get interesting though as Bottas and Red Bull's Sergio Perez completed race simulations in the afternoon. This is the area where we can start to get an idea of who has the pace.

Mercedes look mighty on the long runs

Lewis Hamilton may have been beached in the gravel trap in the morning but he also managed to execute some impressive lap times before the incident. This was backed up by Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon who ran in the 1:36s and 1:35s on the C2 hard compound.

His pace could only be matched by Sergio Perez which suggests Mercedes and Red Bull will be the two top teams once again this year.

Bottas had some fun on the C5 tyre, the softest of Pirelli's compounds. He initially did a 1:30.4 only to go even faster on a 1:30.2 to set the benchmark time of pre-season testing.

The Mercedes looked a lot more stable too, and they are definitely heading in the right direction which is dangerous news for their rivals.

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Gasly's headline time

Pierre Gasly set the second quickest time of testing, only bettered by Bottas in the Mercedes. It's been a strong start to the new season for AlphaTauri with Yuki Tsunoda getting up to speed quickly too.

Between Gasly and Tsunoda, they have completed 253 laps with no issues which is great news for the team but also Honda who have introduced a brand-new power unit for 2021.

Gasly did a full race simulation in the afternoon on the C2 tyres, beginning his stint in the 1:38s before lapping consistently in the 1:37s. He was 1-1.5 seconds slower than Red Bull's Sergio Perez but who knows what fuel loads or engine modes they were running.

That's before we get into how hard the drivers are pushing and what they are testing out on their new cars.

Are Ferrari in trouble?

Carlos Sainz was driving the SF21 like a rally car. He really struggled in the morning and was not happy with the balance of the Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc was sliding the rear of his 2021 machine in the afternoon although his race pace was good. Leclerc drove a stint in the C2 tyres before switching to the C3 compound.

The Monegasque driver was able to maintain consistent speed but was slightly slower on average compared to Gasly in the AlphaTauri. It's not where Ferrari want to be.

Alonso shows no signs of slowing down

Fernando Alonso officially made his F1 return after two years away from the sport. He did 128 laps on his comeback, taking Alpine's total to 257 - the most of any team.

The two-time world champion traded fastest laps with Daniel Ricciardo in the morning session before embarking on some race stints in the evening. Alpine might be slightly concerned that Alonso's pace seemed to drop away as the stint went on suggesting they are wearing out the tyres.

Bahrain is traditionally a high tyre degradation track, but if Mercedes' and Perez's stints are anything to go by, the pace should get quicker as the fuel drops away. We will see if this trend continues on Sunday.

In terms of the way Alonso drove, it's like he had never been away. Alpine's notably big airbox remains on the car to help aerodynamics due to the slimming down of the sidepods. It's an intriguing piece of engineering and it will be interesting to see how it affects the car at other venues.

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

McLaren have more to unlock

McLaren have opted to focus on testing and changing new parts and fiddling with the setup before they show their true potential.

Race simulations are to come on the final day of pre-season testing and Daniel Ricciardo will be encouraged that he has managed to top both of the morning sessions with a lot left in the tank.

On Saturday, McLaren concentrated on gathering data with their aerodynamic package after Friday's sandstorm prevented them from getting the simulations they needed.

Lando Norris will be pleased with his 1:30.586 on used C4 tyres in the afternoon. It put him in fourth but the three cars ahead of him used the faster C5 tyre compound.

Vettel the big loser on Day 2

Aston Martin endured a difficult day as Sebastian Vettel was limited to 10 laps due to a gearbox-related problem. The team use a Mercedes gearbox, so it's the second Mercedes gearbox issue after the world champions had a problem on Friday.

Lance Stroll salvaged things slightly to take third place on a 1:30.460 but it was a disappointing day for Aston Martin who desperately need to get more mileage under their belt on Sunday.

			© Aston Martin
	© Aston Martin

What to expect on the final day

Every team will do more race simulations should they stay trouble-free. It's always difficult to make comparisons but we can make trends to see whether a driver drops off the pace as the stint goes on or if they can post faster lap times as the fuel level drops.

The teams will want to start pushing the limits over one lap too so we could get a 'happy hour' during the final 60 minutes of running to replicate Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying.

George Russell will drive an F1 car for the first time in 2021 whilst Hamilton and Max Verstappen will have most people's attention in the final session of F1 testing.

Formula 1 pre-season test 2021 RN365 News dossier


Exclusive Plans for new British-based F1 team revealed