Verstappen tops first day of pre-season testing

Max Verstappen was the early pace-setter on the first day of pre-season testing for the 2021 F1 Championship after a difficult afternoon session.

Although there were no stoppages in the afternoon session, a sandstorm hit the circuit making conditions difficult for all drivers on track.

But, despite the tough conditions, Verstappen managed to improve on his time from the morning to end up fastest at the end of the first day with a best time of 1m30.674s, whilst also managing to complete 139 laps of the Bahrain International circuit.

McLaren continued to impress in the afternoon. Daniel Ricciardo was fastest in the morning session and Lando Norris bettered his team-mate’s time to end up second fastest in his MCL35M, two tenths behind Verstappen.

Esteban Ocon was another driver to have a productive day. He completed 129 laps for Alpine, generating good data for his team, and was third fastest, while the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll was fourth.

Carlos Sainz had a good start to his Ferrari career, ending up fifth fastest, albeit 1.2s slower than Verstapppen’s Red Bull, while Antonio Giovinazzi had a strong afternoon, ending up sixth, having managed 60 laps in the afternoon. His best effort was three tenths faster than the time Ricciardo set in the morning.

AlphaTauri were line astern in eighth and ninth. Yuki Tsunoda, who is making his debut in F1 this year, was half a second slower than Pierre Gasly’s best effort, but his time was set on the hard compound tyre compared to Gasly’s on the medium.

Mercedes struggled once again on Friday afternoon in what was another difficult session. Lewis Hamilton took over the reins from Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon, but he could only manage 39 laps meaning the world champions have completed significantly less mileage than their rivals.

The world champion’s best effort was only good enough for 10th, while Bottas ended up slowest of all, six seconds slower than the pacesetting time.

Testing gets back underway first thing on Saturday morning.