Max Verstappen Sets The Pace On First Day Of Pre-Season Testing

Red Bull Racing Honda’s 2021 Formula One season championship charge got off to a solid start in Bahrain today, with Max Verstappen at the wheel of the BR16B as this year’s sole three-day pre-season test kicked off at the Bahrain International Circuit.

In blustery and extremely dusty conditions, Verstappen powered through 139 laps of the 5.412km track on his way to the day’s quickest time.

Max Verstappen Fastest On Day 1

While championships aren’t won on the first day of testing, when the team unwrap the car for the first time everyone holds their breath waiting to see just how competitive it is against their main rivals.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing let out a collective sigh of relief, knowing they have put together a package that will be able to take the fight to Mercedes in 2021.

“We had a very positive day and managed a lot of laps even though the track conditions were quite difficult. It was very warm with a lot of wind and we know the degradation is always high around here so I’m very happy with how it went.

“The heat initially just makes it all a bit more difficult in general, but I have to say I changed my visor and I think it’s always looking a bit more tricky on the camera. When you’re sitting in the car it’s fine.

“We aimed for this number of laps and when you can complete a full programme like this the Team can also be pleased with the information we have.

“We don’t need to talk about pace yet and it isn’t really a discussion until we get to Q3 at the first race weekend – it’s only then you see the real pace in all the cars. The main thing is that the car felt nice to drive, so it’s a positive start,” said Verstappen.

2021 Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing Day 1 - Max Verstappen (image courtesy Red Bull Racing)
2021 Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing Day 1 – Max Verstappen (image courtesy Red Bull Racing)

Red Bull Racing Reach Day 1 Objectives

For the engineers both at the track and back at the factory, plenty of precious data was captured that can be built on in the coming days.

Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: “Today went well. The conditions were pretty difficult and very windy, especially in the morning. It calmed down a bit in the afternoon but a lot of dust had been kicked up and it was very hazy and quite difficult to run in.

“In terms of objectives, we’re really pleased, as we had a target in terms of the number of laps we wanted to get through and a fairly busy run plan and we were able to stick to both.

“Lap time is not what it’s about at this stage and I don’t think Max will be getting too pumped up about being at the top of the timesheet on day one. What’s more important is that we were able to follow the plan and do the laps.

“For Sergio tomorrow, the conditions should hopefully be a little better. It’s not supposed to be quite as hazy, but the wind is likely to still be quite strong. The plan will be pretty much the same for Checo, so fingers crossed we’re looking forward to another good day.”

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2021 Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing Day 1 – Max Verstappen (image courtesy Red Bull Racing)