Unlikely Stars In F1 Testing

Unlikely Stars In F1 Testing
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 13: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri and Japan during Day Two of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on March 13, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202103130156 // Usage for editorial use only //

So Yuki Tsunoda and AlphaTauri are the second quickest combination for Formula One in season 2021.

Unlikely. At best.

And what about Kimi Raikkonen in fourth for Alfa Romeo, and George Russell rebounding from P-Nowhere to sixth with Williams?

Just like the Supercars pre-season testing, where Will Brown and Zane Goddard starred against the clocked but were mobbed when racing began, three days at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain has served up far more questions than answers.

Some people believe Daniel Riccardo could be driving a McLaren-Mercedes that’s a genuine title contender, thanks to an all-new chassis and the power-plant that has driven Lewis Hamilton to so much success in recent years.

Ferrari is hopeful that it is rebounding from the worst season in 40 years, while Alpine – formerly Renault – is taking it easy as Fernando Alonso settles back into F1.

One thing is certain – Max Verstappen is quickest of the contenders in Bahrain and was the only driver to dip into the 1 minute 28 second barrier on the final day of testing, as most teams when for a soft-compound qualifying simulation.

“I think we can say it has been a good weekend, but of course that doesn’t give you any guarantees and all teams are doing different programs at testing,” said Verstappen.

“There are still thing we want to work on but I think all teams will have that. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of weeks in Q3 where we really are, but in general I would say the car feels good and I’m looking forward to going racing.”

There is plenty of bla-bla-bla from hopeful drivers, but the best hope for fans is Lewis Hamilton’s fifth-place time and the worrying words – for Mercedes-AMG – from the team’s technical director Andrew Shovlin.

“We can see from the data we’ve collected over the last few days that on race pace, we’re not as quick as Red Bull. Far too many cars were ahead of us on pace today,” Shovlin said.

“We’ve had issues in recent years with pace in winter testing and managed to make good progress before the first race but we may have our work cut out this time. We’ve not got long before we’re back here for the race so we’ve planned a program of work to try and understand some of our issues and will be leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to find some more speed over the next ten days.”

Hamilton, who is aiming for an eighth world title, was a little more upbeat but still not confident.

“I’ve never been a massive fan of testing, I just love racing It’s probably the only year I would have asked for more days though, because we’ve got lots of work to do,” said Hamilton.

“We won’t know until we get to qualifying in two weeks’ time exactly where we stand.”

There are plenty of teams with problems, as several outfits had gearbox failures, Aston Martin had a power-plant give up on the final day, and the new Benz is obviously a handful – after regulation changes which have changed the amount of rear downforce – as Hamilton managed to throw his car into the gravel on one occasion.

“I feel we have improved in many areas compared to last season. It’s hard to say where we are compared to our opponents, because this test was even harder than usual to interpret,” says Ferrari’s team principal, Mattio Binotto.


  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull 1:28.960
  2. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri 1:29.053
  3. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari 1:29.611
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo 1:29.766
  5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:30.025
  6. George Russell, Williams 1:30.117
  7. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren 1:30.144
  8. Sergio Perez, Red Bull 1:30.187
  9. Fernando Alonzo, Alpine 1:30.318
  10. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari 1:30.486
  11. Lando Norris, McLaren 1:30.661
  12. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri 1:30.828
  13. Esteban Ocon, Alpine 1:31.310
  14. Nikita Mazepin, Haas 1:31.531
  15. Mick Schumacher, Haas 1:32.053
  16. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes 1:32.406
  17. Sebastian Vettel, Aston 1:35.041
  18. Lance Stroll, Aston 1:36.100