Free Practice 2
F1 2021
Round 1

Max Tops Friday Running As Honda F1 Return To Action

bh Bahrain International Circuit

The first Friday of practice of the 2021 Formula 1 season was a productive one for the Honda-powered teams as Max set the pace in both sessions in Bahrain.

Max Tops Friday Running As Honda F1 Return To Action

Each practice session has been reduced from 90 minutes to an hour this year, leading to a busy FP1 even in hot daytime conditions that are not representative of qualifying and the race. Max led the way with Red Bull Racing getting off to a strong start, as he was fastest by 0.3s. Sergio’s first session during a race weekend for the team was also encouraging, as he finished in the top six.

Pierre was just one position behind Sergio in seventh, completing the most laps of any driver in the first session as he totaled 23, two more than Yuki who had a busy first session in F1 as he ended up 14th.

FP2 takes place under the floodlights - as do qualifying and the race - and offers a better idea of the competitive picture, with Max once again setting the pace in an extremely close session. All four Honda-powered cars were in the top ten, with Sergio tenth - just over 0.6s away from the quickest time.

Pierre Enters The Pits - FP1
Pierre Enters The Pits - FP1

For Scuderia AlphaTauri it was a strong final hour, as Yuki showed an impressive turn of speed on his first qualifying simulation to finish seventh, two positions ahead of Pierre.

With recent testing data from the same venue we will now spend the night analysing all of the information we have gathered to prepare for the first competitive sessions of the season on Saturday and Sunday.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
The first two sessions of the new season went reasonably smoothly and overall it was a good day for both our teams. We have the unusual situation of the first race taking place at the same circuit where we tested two weeks ago, so it was straightforward to establish a baseline for PU and chassis for the start of free practice. From an operational point of view, this was the first Friday with the two sessions reduced from 90 minutes each to 60 and we adapted our programme accordingly. However, we were still able to complete all the set-up programme we had scheduled for today. All four drivers did a good job with no mistakes. Now, as usual, we will study all the data to optimise our settings prior to tomorrow’s first qualifying of the season and we hope we can perform well with both our teams.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
It’s been a good day again and with the heat and the wind it is not easy to find a perfect balance around the whole lap but overall I would say it was a positive day. There are still things to improve and look into for tomorrow, tyre wise and a bit of balance tuning, plus I think it will be even more windy which is a challenge for everyone in these cars. I am pretty happy with the start of the weekend but tomorrow is a different day and we have to see whether we can do it in qualifying when it counts.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s been a great day – I’ve experienced my first practice sessions in the car as a Formula 1 driver and it’s really exciting. I think my passion has really shone through today and I’m looking forward to showing my full potential behind the wheel tomorrow in qualifying. We’ve got great pace this weekend as a team and I’m keen to see how I perform tomorrow in my first F1 qualifying session. I’m still learning a lot in the car and it’s obviously only my first race weekend so I’m keen to not put too much pressure on myself but I’m looking forward to getting out on track for my first race and seeing what we can do.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
It feels great to finally get into a race weekend and I’m pleased so far with how things are going. I’m settling in well and taking some steps forwards. If I were to summarize today, I’ve got some work to do on the short runs as over one lap I don’t quite feel the car is within me just yet and I still have to think about what the car is doing, but in the long runs I’m more comfortable and I think the pace is there so that’s positive. I think we have some work to do on the soft tyre as there is also room for improvement there, but the car is performing well, we have good pace and tomorrow it will be pretty close in qualifying so we need to make sure we get it right and have a good start to the season.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I think it’s been a good start to the weekend – the car felt strong in both sessions and I’m happy with it. We didn’t quite put it together this evening, on our fast lap, but overall, I think there are a lot of positives to take-away from today and I’m excited now to see what we can do in qualifying tomorrow. The long run with high fuel, that we completed in preparation for the race, felt strong so I think there are some good signs but it’s obviously only the first day, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’ll fine-tune everything tonight with the engineers and I think we’ll be in a good position for tomorrow. I hope that we can get into Q3 in qualifying – that’s our target – and if we manage that we should be in a position to fight for some good points come race day.

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