AHEAD OF ROOKIE TSUNODA AND SAINZ
Max Verstappen set the fast time of pre-season testing ahead of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, which starts in Bahrain in two weeks’ time. AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda claimed a surprise second place, finishing just under a tenth of a second behind Verstappen. Defending champion Lewis Hamilton ended the day in fifth place.
Driving Red Bull’s RB16B in the afternoon session, Verstappen most of his final four-hour stint working through set-up items on medium tyres, but in the final hour he bolted on a set of soft tyres for the first time and in a rapidly shifting battle with 20-year-old Japanese rookie Tsunoda, the Dutch driver eventually claimed bragging rights with a lap of 1:28.960 set on the C4 compound.
The impressive Tsunoda also made incremental improvements to his lap time over the course of the final hour and managed to end just 0.093s behind the lead driver of AlphaTauri’s sister team. The Japanese driver did, however, need to move to the softest C5 tyre to get near Verstappen’s benchmark.
Behind them Carlos Sainz used the C4 compound to claim third place on the timesheet, though the Spaniard ended the day more than six tenths of a second off Verstappen’s pace.
Fourth quickest on the final day was Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen. The Finn rose to the top of the timesheet early in the final hour with a lap of 1:29.766 but was unable to improve further as the session came to an end. In the final moments Räikkönen was also involved in a coming together with Sainz when the Spaniard took the inside line into a corner and Räikkönen, failing to notice, turned in.
While not good enough to trouble the order at the top of the timesheet, Räikkönen’s C5 time was, however, good enough to keep defending world champion Lewis Hamilton at bay.
Struggling to hustle what appeared to be an intractable Mercedes around the 5.412km circuit, Hamilton’s was only able to manage a best C5 time of 1:30.025, a full second off Verstappen’s C4 time. There was, of course, indication of the fuel loads on board any of the cars.
George Russell gave an optimistic sheen to Williams’ test phase with sixth place on the final day thanks to a lap of 1:30.117, while Daniel Ricciardo used C4 tyre to claim seventh place for his new team, McLaren.
The first of the morning runners to feature in the top 10 was Sergio Pérez who took eighth place with a C4 lap of 1:30.187. Behind him Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who ran in the afternoon and Ferrari’s morning runner Charles Leclerc closed out the top 10.
Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing, Bahrain – Day Three
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 64 1:28.960
2 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 91 1:29.053 0.093
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 79 1:29.611 0.651
4 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 166 1:29.766 0.806
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 54 1:30.025 1.065
6 George Russell Williams 158 1:30.117 1.157
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 76 1:30.144 1.184
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull 49 1:30.187 1.227
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 78 1:30.318 1.358
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 80 1:30.486 1.526
11 Lando Norris McLaren 56 1:30.661 1.701
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 76 1:30.828 1.868
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 61 1:31.310 2.350
14 Nikita Mazepin Haas 67 1:31.531 2.571
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 78 1:32.053 3.093
16 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 86 1:32.406 3.446
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 56 1:35.041 6.081
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 80 1:36.100 7.140