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The 7-lessons from the Formula-1 test trips

The Formula-1 test runs 2021 are history. For three days, the teams at the International Bahrain Circuit have been canceling their programs– some better, some worse. Who is on the right track, who still has homework to do and who really cares? These are the lessons from the desert tests.

1. Vettel’s miscarriage threatens

For Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin, the three-day test runs were anything but a start to the mark. Time and again, technical problems made a dent in the bill for the British team and the four-time world champion. Pilots and cars are not quite green yet. Software, gears, charging pressure– it was the worm inside. So Vettel drove a few seconds later on Sunday, but because of the limited time he only came to Longruns and did not even go on a time hunt.

We do not know exactly where the problem arises. Still bitter. Of course, we’re wasting some time, especially me. It’s just the way it is. I think the first few racing meters will be decisive for us,”Vettel said after the new problems on the third test day.

The consequences: Vettel was only spinning 117 rounds overall, just like no other regular rider. This is 2021 particularly painful, because every driver can only test for a day and a half. As a team Aston Martin arrived only at 1699 kilometers, only Mercedes had less on the bump. And that could be the problem: both pilots spent so little time in the car. For the few hours this year, every minute is worth gold. Until Vettel gets really warm with his new AMR21, I guess a few races will pass. There is a danger of a bumper start.

2. Worries at Mercedes: Twilight in sight?

Speaking of bumper start. The World Championship team hardly came into play like Aston Martin, was the last in the kilometer-eater ranking. In the case of black files, there were also problems between them, for example at the gearbox. However, the problem at the moment seems to be the restless hedge caused by the regulatory changes on the floor. Mercedes is clearly weakening in this respect, as Lewis Hamilton’s knights and turners have shown.

Threatens the twilight after years of domination? At least it looks like Red Bull is getting closer to the F1 permanent burners. Mercedes, on the other hand, has probably had the worst tests since the hybrid era. There are still two weeks left for the racing stables to do their homework. If you have learned one thing in recent years, it is that Mercedes solves problems in perfectionist work and is the favorite in the first race. Also 2019, Mercedes did not go home as a test champion, and then later went around the ears of everyone.

“We have improved, but we are not where we want to be yet,” Hamilton reported on the third day. “We have improved, but we are not where we want to be.” Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin added: “We can tell from the data we’ve collected over the last few days, Red Bull is closer and the first Mercedes hunter

If there is a clear winner in the test runs, then Red Bull. Max Verstappen’s team was a mess. On the third day, the Dutch reinforced the top shape with a 1:28960. As the only pilot, he broke through the 1:29 brand. In the morning his new teammate Sergio Perez had already led the time table.

Except for a Max spin and the blown engine cover at Perez went according to plan with the team. The Honda engine is whirling, the RB16B apparently has fewer aero problems than the Mercedes.” Yes, they were definitely the best tests so far,”he was pleased to understand and stressed how stable the new Red Bull racer was. But the 23-year-old remains a realist: “I don’t think What will make the team brave: With a performance in this form Red Bull can exert significantly more pressure on Mercedes in the race.

4. Mick was fundamentally solid and highly motivated towards start-up

The test start-up started with a technical strike: After seven rounds Schumi Jr. was doomed to watch and But on the second and third day of Bahrain, the F1-Rookie had to give away his program. 77 rounds Schumacher turned on the last day and was finally able to get used to his Haas car.” It was just fun. I feel good, I feel ready,”the 21-year-old explained and promised,”I can’t say what’s going to happen this season, but I know I’ll do everything I can, that it will be good and I hope I can get some points.”


More about this: The F1 power ranking after the Bahrain test


Special job was given by Haas team leader Gunter Steiner.” I didn’t expect them to be so well prepared on the level and report back to the car. It was a good atmosphere, a good mood. I am positively surprised,”he said to Sky. Steiner admitted, however, that this year Haas VF-21 will also fight with “blunt weapons”. It becomes even clearer: The team’s rally against Mazepin is crucial.

5. Tsunoda and AlphaTauri surprise

Not only did Red Bull start off lightning, but the sister team AlphaTauri also showed a strong early form. Pierre Gasly became a marathon man and rode one round at a time. As with Red Bull: Strong Power Unit, stable car despite the changes on the ground floor. And then there’s a rookie named Yuki Tsunoda. The first F1 driver, born in the 2000s, showed on Sunday where the Alpha Hammer hangs, and in 1:29053 once just clicked on rank t wo. Of course, the times are to be enjoyed with caution anyway, but such a strong appearance of the young Japanese probably had the least on the note. The 20-year-old should easily put on the crown as the best rookie of the year 2021.

6. Ferrari improves, but continues in the middle field

One of the big questions before the start of the season is: Will the Ferrari SF21 finally become a red goddess again? Or a smaller number: does the Ferrari engine have more power again? At least team leader Mattia Binotto is hopeful: Looking at the data, the Ferrari-Capo said: “I think the speed fits on the straight line. It looks as if we no longer have the same disadvantages as we did last year.”

The Ferrari customer teams also hear the same thing: Kimi Vrikkunen reported that in his Alfa C41 he felt that the engine had made progress.

It is also clear however: After the performance of McLaren, AlphaTauri or Alpine, we can look forward to a middle-field jungle with lots of excitement. And Ferrari should also speak a bigger word to the delight of the Tifosi. The Scuderia prefers to cover up the mantle of silence over the weak rank 6 last year.

7. Alonso, Perez and Ricciardo you can put in any car

War what? The trio around Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo delivered in the deserted days of each and a half, even though all three took their seats in a new car. Alonso was even out two years ago, had to endure an upper jaw fracture four weeks ago, then the 39-year-old F1 Oldie sat in the new blue Alpine car with the striking airbox and raced around the course, A convincing comeback.

Daniel Ricciardo also needed extremely little time to get used to the MCL35M. Right in the very first session he set the best time, again the next day. McLaren has implemented the change to the Mercedes Power Unit without any problems and continues to be a hot candidate for third place in the design rating.

Similar positive was the new beginning for Sergio Perez, who quickly tamed his Red Bull and drove to the front seats. Apart from the incident with the engine cover, which had no serious consequences, there was nothing to complain about for Perez. Nevertheless, the Mexican once piled deep: he gives himself five races to groove himself into the new Red Bull.

Emmanuel Schneider

© RTL