In the wake of the grizzly conditions that engulfed the Bahrain International Circuit on the first two days of testing, it was a diamond of a day that greeted Formula 1 on Sunday in which Sergio Perez ended the test where he wanted to be.
The new Red Bull driver topped the timing screens at the end of the morning stanza of the final day of F1’s shortest preseason of the modern era at Sakhir.
After topping yesterday Mercedes were subdued in the AM session today with Valtteri Bottas making up for lost time with 86 laps with a modest seventh-best time.
Perez ticked all the boxes during his stints in the RB16B, building up to the speed that resulted in a best lap time of 1:30.187 in the morning before he hands over to Max Verstappen for the afternoon session. The Mexican completed 48 laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix venue.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was fourth fastest with 75 laps covered suggesting that Honda have made a step on the eve of their final season as an engine supplier and handover to the energy drinks empire.
After a concerning first couple of days, the Ferrari SF21 was second quickest with Charles Leclerc in the cockpit with 80 laps on he lap chart, three-tenths down on the top time and suggesting that the new car is handier than its woeful predecessor.
Lando Norris ended his shift in the McLaren with the third-fastest time ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s final shift. The younger driver doing 56 laps in the process.
Alpine were next best with another solid session after Fernando Alonso’s impressive day in the A521 on Saturday. Esteban Ocon covered 61 laps on his way to fifth.
Mick Schumacher finally got a solid run in the Haas, the German rookie completing 78 laps to end his first preseason test as an F1 driver in sixth.
After sitting out the first two days (why were Williams running pay driver Roy Nissany and denying their drivers vital time in the new car?) George Russell was last of the drivers to get a taste of the 2021 car in anger. He was eighth and will be back in the car in the afternoon.
Kimi Raikkonen racked up the most mileage during the morning, with a run of 91 laps.
Also doing a lot of laps was Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin, the Canadian was slowest of all in what has been an underwhelming return to F1 by Aston Martin.
Faster times are expected during the second half of Sunday, with an increasingly faster track and Verstappen on duty, it might pan out to be the most intriguing final few hours of testing before F1 sets up camp again in two weeks time for the real deal.