Bahrain F1 Test Day 1: What Drivers had to say

bahrain f1 test day 1

Bahrain International Circuit was a hive of activity today for the first day of the Bahrain F1 Test ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season, with drivers summing up their respective programmes at the end of the day.

Fourteen of the regular drivers were on duty with the only reserve, Pietro Fittipaldi, on duty for Haas whose programme was delayed due to freight issues. They missed the morning session.

On the sidelines today, ahead of their stints, tomorrow were Red Bull’s World Champion Max Verstappen, AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo, the McLaren driver feeling unwell and opting out of today’s activities in Bahrain, which included driving and a drivers’ photocall.

After day one of the Bahrain F1 Test, this is what the drivers had to say:

Pierre Gasly: First doesn’t mean much until we get to Quali next week

“It’s good to be finishing the day in P1. But we’re always asked at tests how we’re doing, and I think we’ve got to focus mainly on ourselves and our performance, not at the timing screens as, at the moment, it doesn’t mean much until we get to Quali next week.

“Of course, it’s always nice to be top of the rankings, but at the end of the day I know we’ve got some stuff to work on, so we can get more out of the car. Overall, it’s been a good day.

“There are lots of positives with this car but as a racing driver we always focus on the negatives, so we’ll be using the next two days of testing to really get to grips with this car and work to feel more comfortable in it.

“I’ll be working hard with the engineers tomorrow while Yuki takes over the driving of the car. There are new things to discover with this car every time you go out on track, so we have to make the most of every session and learn as much as we can before the first race here next week.”

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Esteban Ocon: I’m happy with my half-day

“I completed half a day driving today and we managed just short of a race distance in that time. It was good to feel how the 2022 car works in Bahrain, which is very different to Barcelona with completely contrasting conditions.

“We focused more on one compound of tyre today to begin to understand the degradation and performance of it. Our focus was not on full outright performance and we’re still learning on every run we do and that is the absolute target of these test days.

“I’m happy with my half-day and I’m back in the car tomorrow where we hope to add more laps and gain more valuable information on this year’s package.”

Fernando Alonso: We didn’t complete as many laps as we’d have liked

“It was nice to be back driving the car here in Bahrain. Things went quite smoothly for Esteban this morning, but we did encounter a small issue with the car after the lunch break.

“So, we didn’t complete as many laps as we’d have liked in the afternoon. Despite this we still learnt a lot about our car in the hot conditions and we tried some different things with the car setup. We’ll take what we learnt today into tomorrow and Saturday.”

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Pietro Fittipaldi: We accomplished our goal

“Today was great, finally getting to drive the VF-22. It’s a new car, a new generation, so it’s very valuable and important to get those laps in and it’s a very different car to drive, so it was interesting.

“We were focused on doing a lot of laps – that was the main goal since we didn’t get as much in Barcelona – so we were running harder compounds and a lot of longer lap simulations. We accomplished our goal and I’m very happy with today. It was very important to gain experience with this new car.”

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Charles Leclerc: The lap times are not representative

“We were focused on doing a lot of laps – that was the main goal since we didn’t get as much in Barcelona – so we were running harder compounds and a lot of longer lap simulations. We accomplished our goal and I’m very happy with today. It was very important to gain experience with this new car.”

“Our first day of the Bahrain F1 test is behind us. The conditions we found here are very different to those in Barcelona, especially as it is much warmer here.

“This morning, everything went well. We completed the number of laps we set out to and ran all the tests we had planned to, so I’m happy with how it went. The lap times are not representative and we are just focusing on ourselves now, keeping our heads down and working well.

Carlos Sainz: A good day of running with no issues

“Another good day of testing for us, continuing where we left off in Barcelona, with similar run plans but starting to check different set-up windows. We missed out on a final run on C3s, but in general, we managed to test two or three things that were very important for us.

“We managed to put together a good day of running with no issues. The mechanics are working hard in the heat, which is never easy, so I thank them for the effort. We still have a couple of long days ahead, but hopefully, they will be very productive ones.

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Zhou Guanyu: We can be happy about the work we have done today

“Definitely a step forward from Barcelona. We were able to do a good number of laps, which was a way to build up familiarity with the car. Every time you step into the cockpit you get a little more confident so a day like today was really good.

“Of course, there’s still a lot of work to do and we need to understand the car better: we will try a few things, in different conditions, in the next few sessions but we can be happy about the work we have done today.”

Valtteri Bottas: A good recovery after a challenging start

“It was a good day in the car, getting a lot of laps under our belt and following our run plan until the red flag at the very end of the session. With this mileage, I was able to first get a proper feel for the car and then focus on some set-up work, finding how the car responds, what it needs.

“It’s nice to feel and see the progress throughout the day: the team did a good job since Barcelona, it was a good recovery after a challenging start but we are heading in the right direction.”

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Lando Norris: Many things for us to understand

“A tough day with a few problems, which set us back a lot of laps meaning we couldn’t do the long runs. We still maximised today as much as we could and as much as what the issues allowed us to do.

“Hopefully the next few days, we can make up for that – we just have to change the programme around a little bit in how we’re trying to understand the car.

“It’s tricky because it’s a very different circuit: a lot bumpier; a lot hotter. Cars are getting pushed to a very different limit to the past week of testing in Barcelona. There’re many things for us to understand and we’ll keep learning over the next couple of days.”

The Bahrain F1 Test continues on Friday and Saturday, ahead of the season opening Grand Prix at the venue on 20 March.

Report in progress…