2024 f1 drivers lineup group photo bahrain grand prix

BahrainGP: F1 Driver quotes ahead of season opener

2024 f1 drivers lineup group photo bahrain grand prix

The 74the running of the FIA-sanctioned Formula 1 World Championship is upon us, and this is what drivers say (those who bother) in their official team capacity previewing the 2024 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

This forthcoming race weekend in Bahrain, and the next in nearby Saudi Arabia a mere highway drive away, will begin on Thursday with FP1 and FP2, followed by FP3 and Qualifying on Friday and, on Saturday the #BahrainGP. Round 1 to kick start the record 24-race season.

After three days of F1 testing at the Sakhir venue last week, and with much new car data gathered as well as reams of historical info in hand of the desert-based track, F1 drivers preview the Grand Prix weekend ahead. This is what they have to say.

Lando Norris, McLaren: “It’s finally here, our first race of the season! I’m looking forward to starting my sixth season in Formula 1 and with the team. We ended last season on a high, so hopefully we keep the momentum. It felt great to be back behind the wheel of an F1 car last week. Testing of the MCL38 went well, which is a good way to go into the race weekend. We learned a lot but there’s always more to get used to in a new car. A huge thanks goes to the team for their hard work in bringing the MCL38 to track. Let’s go!”

Piastri: It should be a fun season ahead

#BahrainGP: F1 Driver quotes ahead of season opener

Oscar Piastri, McLaren: “I’m excited to start my second season in Formula 1. It’s great to be back in the car, and the MCL38 feels good. It was great to get substantial time in the car last week at testing. We learned a lot about the car, but this is when we really find out how we stack up against the competition. The team has done a fantastic job over the winter, and we’re all really happy to be back racing. It should be a fun season ahead.”

Pierre Gasly, Alpine: “The A524 has a good base, one we can and will develop across the season. I was very pleased to see the togetherness in the team in recent weeks and months in reaching various milestones, which culminated with having the car on track last week. And it is that hard work that will continue in order for us to keep progressing. Bahrain is a great track for racing. I think we even had a reminder of that in the test last week! There are multiple places for overtaking so it’s usually an exciting one for us drivers. Last year, I scored points after a very strong Sunday performance in my first race for Alpine. Obviously, that is always the natural goal and we will see how the race weekend unfolds this time round. I’m certainly excited to be lining up on the grid once again and going for it at every opportunity.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine: “Extracting the maximum The test session in Bahrain was extremely valuable and we learnt a lot about the new car and its characteristics. The car improved from the first to the last day in testing, so we’re hoping to see similar improvements over the course of the race weekend. We know what we’re working with heading into the opening race of the season, and we must extract the maximum from our package to give us the best possible chance of coming away with something from the weekend. It’s difficult to gauge the pecking order after such a short testing schedule, with teams running different programmes and fuel loads. We just focused on ourselves and gathered as much data as possible. The same also applies for this weekend in Bahrain. We know we’re entering this season slightly on the back foot with the new car concept and the team is working incredibly hard to bring more performance to the car in the coming races.”

Albon: There’s still work to do in Bahrain

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Alex Albon, Williams: “We didn’t have the easiest test but made progress throughout. There’s still work to do to maximise the car we have, these few days in between the test and race have been spent understanding the package and especially the areas we need to work on. We’ll go into FP1 with some new ideas and try to maximise the weekend as much as possible.”

Logan Sargeant, Williams: “Since Bahrain testing, I’ve been itching to get back in the FW46 and finally go racing for the first time this season. Of course, everyone would’ve liked more days of testing, but as a team we maximised the three days the best we could, making progress in the right direction. We’ll be looking to build on what we learned during the test and get the car in a good window ahead of Qualifying. Hopefully we can start the season with a positive weekend for the team.”

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo: “I am really looking forward to getting back to racing: there is no feeling like it, and no amount of testing will ever get close to what you experience in wheel-to-wheel battles. I am really curious to see where everyone stands once qualifying comes around: we expect the field around us to be, once again, super close and we are aware that we will need to extract the most out of everything – the driving, the set-up, the conditions – to be at the top of our grouping. We are confident we’ve done a good job in testing, now we have to continue improving for this race and each one that follows.”

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo: “It’s finally time to race again, and I can barely contain my excitement. This is what motorsport is all about, and there is something even more special about the first race of the season, on a great track under the floodlights. I have some really good memories from Bahrain, from my first ever race in F1, and it always gives me a smile to get back on the grid here. We are happy with what we achieved in testing, although we know it’s just the beginning of a long road. We have to keep improving, not just here this weekend, but in every race ahead of us: if we do that, we can have a lot of fun in the battle with our competitors. Every session is an opportunity and we have to make the most out of all of them.”

Hulkenberg: I’m curious to see how it all plays out

Kevin Magnussen, Haas: “We can be happy about testing. The objective was to work on long runs with high-fuel, racing-related stuff addressing our main issue from last year, and I think we’ve made progress. I don’t want to raise expectations – I think we still have a lot of work to do – but we’ve gotten somewhere with the work we’ve done over the winter and these days at testing. It’s a tricky circuit, especially for rear tires and tire degradation is usually quite high, so if you can manage your tires here, then it’s a good sign. Tire management isn’t easy, so it’s a good place for us to be testing given the issues we’re trying to fix. I’m looking forward to seeing where we’ll be in the race, that’s always the final test to see if we’ve made progress or not. Everyone’s in good spirits, there’s a really good atmosphere in the team and an atmosphere I haven’t felt for a while.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas: “Overall, Bahrain pre-season testing was good and positive. It’s always difficult, I don’t want to get too excited or over-enthusiastic, but we’ve definitely made an improvement in certain areas where we were struggling last year. That’s good to see and feel, but that was very much needed. It’s too early to say where we are in the field, but it was a fun few days, and was successful from a testing execution and reliability point of view. I’m looking forward to getting the season started, I’m curious to see how it all plays out.”

Ricciardo: This is like the start of the second part of my career

Daniel Ricciardo, RB: “At last, it’s time to go racing again. I can’t wait to be honest. In contrast to last year, this time it’s been good to have a proper pre-season. After 2022, I needed that time off, so it was great to jump in mid-season, but in terms of being fully prepared, this year has been a better way to get ready.

“I do feel that this is like the start of the second part of my career. Having some time off gives you a new perspective. I’m putting a lot of focus into what is a second opportunity for me, but at the same time, it’s not putting pressure on myself. I’m hungry and motivated without any negative weight on my shoulders or stress attached to it, to interfere with my life.

“Like everyone else, I’ve only had a few hours testing in this year’s car. It’s natural for a new car to be an improvement on the previous one, but what counts is where we stand compared to everyone else. Have we improved more than them or have they improved more than us? It does feel better, but you’re only as good as your competition lets you be. I’ve stayed in Bahrain since the test, and with the engineers we’ve spent a lot of hours studying all the data from the three days on track, so we know what we want to do as soon as we hit the track for Free Practice.

“I like Bahrain, it’s a nice track and a good place to start the season. It’s pretty challenging, especially on the rear tyres as the track is very rough. I’ve had some good moments there, never on the podium, but I’ve scored plenty of points. Of course, there’s something special about the first race of the season. When you haven’t raced for a few months, it feels a bit more intense. You can spend time in the simulator driving the track, but you can’t practice racing intensely, wheel to wheel with 19 of the best guys in the world, and that makes for a pretty exciting feeling at the first race of the year.”

Yuki Tsunoda, RB: “We’re about to go racing after what was a solid three days of testing for us, although, with all the teams running different programmes, we can’t say where we are in terms of performance. We spent the time focusing on ourselves, working on understanding the car. The work we did was of high quality, completing a lot of laps reliably and achieving what we set out to do with no major issues, so that’s positive. It was very productive, and we got answers in a lot of areas where we had question marks.

“I think it’s very important to spend some time with all the guys before the start of the season, and because I stayed in Bahrain after the test, I organised a football game with the team, which was really fun. We played in the late afternoon when the temperature dropped a bit and, in fact, it was a bit chilly! One evening, I had dinner with my engineers and my side of the garage, and on another day, I played golf with my trainer and one of the team marketing guys.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve made a massive step compared to the last race and last test of 2023 in Abu Dhabi, but that’s partly because we brought updates there that were already aimed at 2024. Last week, we saw once again that they’re working well and that the team has adopted the right philosophy with the car, which seems to handle well without extremes of oversteer or understeer. It’s made a step forward on the mechanical side, so I’d say we have a good starting point for this season, with more development to come in the future.

“There have been a lot of new people joining the team over the winter and you could feel that at the test. There’s a definite sense of change. Laurent is similar to Franz in that he takes an interest in every member of the team. I’d say it felt different, in a good way. We’ve always been hungry, but this time, it feels like we’re hungry in a different way.

“After three days testing here, we have a good baseline for the start of Free Practice, and I’m happy with my lap times from testing. We focused a lot on the engineering side to understand how the car reacts and started to narrow down what test items we needed to look at and what areas to focus on for the actual race. We completed a lot of different tests, and this week it’s time to put it all together and focus more on qualifying. There are a lot of areas we can explore with this car and our main target from Thursday will be to extract as much performance from it as possible. The first race of the season is always a little bit different as you don’t know what to expect and which teams will be quick. There is definitely some mystery and excitement!”