F1 2021
Round 1

#BahrainGP Setup - F1 2021 Is Here!

bh Bahrain International Circuit

The 2021 Formula 1 season begins in Bahrain this weekend, 104 days since Max Verstappen took victory under the lights at the 2020 finale in Abu Dhabi. This will be the third time that the Sakhir track hosts the season curtain-raiser.

#BahrainGP Setup - F1 2021 Is Here!

There have been a few changes over the winter, notably a couple of new faces in both our driver lines-up in the form of Checo and Yuki - time to get to work, team!

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
“After a short winter break, the 2021 season begins this weekend in Bahrain. The start of last year’s series was delayed because of the pandemic, but thanks to the efforts of the FIA and Formula 1, this year’s championship gets underway more or less on time, even though the world is still feeling the effects of Covid-19.

“From Honda’s side, in order to improve our performance, we have modified many of our PU components so that we effectively have a new PU for this season. Compared to last year, the new one has more power, a lower centre of gravity and is very compact. Therefore, apart from the power increase, the PU has also improved the overall packaging and therefore performance of both our teams’ cars.

“During the three day pre-season test at the same Sakhir circuit we will race on this Sunday, Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda completed the most laps of all the teams and, combined with Red Bull Racing Honda, our PUs did a total of 791 laps, equivalent to 4,281 kilometres. This workload produced plenty of data that will be useful on the PU and chassis side for this weekend’s race and both teams were happy with what they achieved. We welcome two new drivers to the Honda F1 family, the very experienced and quick Sergio Perez at Red Bull and the young rookie, Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri. We feel they will form a strong pairing with their respective team-mates, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.

"This will be Honda’s last year in Formula 1 and we feel we are very well prepared on all fronts, from the PU to the chassis to our two strong driver line-ups. We will take every race as it comes as we strive for our ultimate goal of winning the Formula 1 World Championship."

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
“I didn’t mind having only 1.5 days in the car and for me the important thing was the mileage and seeing that the set-up changes we made over the test were working. You can’t talk about proper limitations yet as we have only driven in hot conditions and every track needs different things, but I have a good feel for the car. From my side the car was stable enough to feel comfortable, there are always things to do better but we are always making improvements and that is what the engineers will do.

“For sure the test was a positive start for us and you can always be happy when you get that number of laps in and get a good understanding of the car but it doesn’t say anything about pure performance. I know people are excited and think we are just saying this, but Mercedes are still the favourites – how can they not be when they have won seven world championships in a row. I’m sure Mercedes also want people to think we are the favourites and put the pressure on us but we are just focussed on ourselves. You can be sure that everyone in this Team and at Honda is pushing to beat them and anyone else who may be quick this year. I see every season as a new opportunity to beat them, but we would be stupid to expect that fight to be easy and look at testing and think we are ahead. I personally can't wait until we are all pushing in Q3, that is when you will see everyone at full power with low fuel and that is the time to see who developed performance wise and then in the race we will see who can keep that performance over a race distance. Let’s hope we can be good at both!

“Now I have to deliver and the Team have to deliver so we can try and mount a title fight. We all know our roles and it’s good to see Honda and ExxonMobil have been pushing hard over the winter to make sure we have the best possible package in the RB16B for the season. I like the Bahrain track and it will be exciting to see our performance. It's time to see who has got what.”

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
“I can’t wait to go racing! It’s the first time we start the season at the same track where we had three days of testing just a short time ago, which is like having extra free practice sessions. It means we have a good idea of what we need for this Sakhir track.

“The aim of the test was to understand our new car, particularly the new aero package in order to get the most out of it during the season. I’d say we had the best ever pre-season test since I joined this team: we did more laps than any other team and it was really productive. Actually, looking at all the teams, the level of performance and reliability achieved in Formula 1 is really impressive, if you compare it to winter testing from just a few years ago, when it was normal for everyone to have quite a few problems. There has been a lot of technological progress.

“We had no technical or mechanical worries, which is very encouraging. Those first laps gave me a good feeling with the car and there are a lot of positives to take away from the test. In the time since then, everyone in the team has worked very hard to prepare for the first race and I hope that pays off this weekend.

“When it comes to the effect of the new technical regulations, I’d say what we saw is that we have a little bit less grip everywhere. You don’t feel a difference in terms of how the car handles and behaves and I’d say it’s fairly similar to what we experienced last year – a bit worse in some places, a bit better in others. The overall balance is similar, it’s just there’s less grip so you are slower through the corners. But it’s not a big difference. Apart from that, the first time we tested the car it gave us a baseline that worked straight away. We were able to work on fine tuning in some corners and now it’s down to the engineers working mainly in the wind tunnel to push to try and find more downforce through the year. But we have a really good base from which to start the year and the car also reacts well to any changes we make to it, which is a good sign. During the test, we didn’t push flat out very often, so it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the improvement on the PU side, but I know what Honda has done and it was encouraging that we had zero bother on the PU over the three days, even though we did a huge number of laps. We’ll get a better idea when we push harder at the first race.

“From a team point of view, it’s important to have two drivers who can deliver and Yuki did a good job at the test, doing a lot of laps, which is a good sign. He made no mistakes and did everything that was asked of him. Both of us are ready to attack the season.”

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
"There was a very limited amount of testing, especially considering the amount of things we have to run through and check, but I think we prepared well as a Team and I look forward to my first race with Red Bull! It’s going to be a process for the first couple of races, just to learn as much as possible and to get up to speed quickly, so we can be in a good position for the season.

"Overall it’s early days, you know, so we will see. I think the more you try to figure out what other people are doing the more lost you can get, so there isn’t a lot of point in reading into anything. We just have to wait until qualifying and see where everyone is at.

"This is what I’ve been dreaming of. I can’t wait. I’m really, really excited to see some fans at the track, to finally get to race, I’m looking so much forward to it. I’m going to approach things very relaxed and just deliver to my maximum and we’ll see where we end up."

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
“Making my Formula 1 debut this weekend in Bahrain is going to be a big step up from Formula 2. During the off-season, I was able to drive some older F1 cars and then we had the three-day test at Sakhir, so with all of that combined I feel I am well prepared. There has been a lot to learn, in terms of the power of the car, how effective the brakes are and, especially unique to Formula 1, how many controls and switches there are on the steering wheel. During the test, I worked on understanding how the car reacts to all the changes that can be made to it, I spent a lot of time studying the data and I feel I have made some progress. Comparing this year’s car to last year’s, I had a good feeling through the steering and the engine seems to have more power, but although testing went well, we won’t know how competitive we are until this weekend, because in testing, everyone is running different programmes.
“I have also worked hard on my physical preparation, training every day and focusing on those areas where I saw I needed to be stronger. I am keen to see what happens in this first race. My approach to the season will be to push hard right from the start, building on my experience to find the limits of the car and I hope that, by the mid-season, it all comes together with some good results. My team-mate is very fast and experienced, and I plan to learn as much as possible from him. I am the first Japanese driver to race in Formula 1 since 2014 and I know a lot is expected of me from the Japanese fans, so I will be trying my best to make them happy. I think I’m ready!”

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