Pre-season testing got off to an encouraging start for Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri despite a sandstorm trying to disrupt the opening day in Bahrain.
Running began at 10am local time for a four-hour morning stint, with Max in the Red Bull for the whole day while Pierre carried out AlphaTauri duties in the morning. The Frenchman was quickly down to work and completed 74 laps during a busy opening session as we got to push the 2021 cars in anger for the first time.
While the initial running was focused on gathering aerodynamic data and checking systems, Pierre had the highest mileage in the morning and posted his quickest lap on the C3 compound tyre to end up second overall, 0.028s off top spot.
Max was third in the morning session, 0.042s away from the fastest lap at that stage as he completed 60 laps, and his strong running continued in the afternoon as he raised his total to the highest of the day with 139. But it wasn’t just a reliable day, as Max went fastest overall on the C3 compound tyre in the afternoon session.
That fastest lap came as the floodlights took effect in the latter stages, with the first part of the afternoon session taking place amid a sandstorm, making conditions extremely difficult. Grip levels were low and particularly tricky off-line, but improved as the sun went down and quick laps were posted late on.
Max drove for the full day, but at AlphaTauri both drivers got track time as Yuki took over for the afternoon. The weather made it difficult but Yuki showed impressive skill as he built up his confidence and slotted in just behind Pierre on the timing screens. Although his running was ended slightly early to investigate some fuel system issues, the two AlphaTauri drivers still combined for another encouraging total of 111 laps, as we enjoyed a reliable day to gather plenty of data from a power unit perspective.
Hopefully conditions will improve on Saturday as testing continues, with Sergio making his first appearance in the Red Bull this week, and AlphaTauri again splitting running between both drivers.