F1 Today – Sakhir Test Prixview – 11/03/2021

F1 Today

Ferrari Sainz to not expecting to be “fully integrated”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is not expecting Carlos Sainz to be fully integrated with the team by the start of the new season in Bahrain. The Spaniard made his first appearance for the team during a shakedown on Thursday at the Sakhir Circuit.

This weekend sees the only three days of testing at the circuit in Bahrain, leaving a limited amount of time for drivers who have changed team to get used to their new teams and drivers. Although Sainz has had plenty of testing in old cars and on the simulator the team admits he will not be completely adjusted for the race.

Binotto told Motorsport.com, “Only three days of winter testing is very short time. We know that for Carlos that will be a challenge. We organised some testing with old cars in Fiorano. I think each single mile he did in our race cars is important for him to integrate into the team, to get used to our procedures.”

“But I have to say that Carlos has progressed and is very well integrated. I think his feedback of the car to the engineers have been good. I think that his speed on track as well has proved to be good and developing, day after day.”

He says that every day of the test was important in getting him as near as 100% ready for the start of the season, and he was not a rookie so he was sure Sainz would manage the  situation and be ready.”

Sainz joins a Ferrari team that is looking to bounce back from its worst season in 40 years in 2020 as it slipped to sixth place in the constructors’ championship. He admitted while he wanted to be fully ready for the opening race, he knows from experience changing teams that the process would take time.

He added, “My intention is obviously to be 100% ready for race one, but realistically speaking, in my experience, changing teams during all these years tells me that is very difficult to achieve.”

“There’s always experiences and feelings that you need to go through race by race, or race weekend by race weekend in free practices, in qualifying and in the races that you always end up learning during the races rather than testing.”

Sainz is aware of the fact that only a day and a half of testing aren’t going to help and he will have to draw on his experience of changing teams lately and try to arrive to race one to my maximum level. Which he says was the same level he was showing at Ferrari.


Haas completes car fire up

Haas has finally been able to fire up its cars for the first time on Wednesday ahead of the start of pre-season testing tomorrow in Sakhir. Usually, teams run the engines in their new cars in the factory at the first possible opportunity to check their systems ahead of a first shakedown run.

The British based team was unable to fire up its car because Ferrari engineers were unable to travel to the UK because they would have to have quarantine on arrival and again on their return to Italy, and that was not considered practical.

For the same reason, the team did not conduct a filming day or shakedown in the UK and instead will give the car its first laps when official pre-season testing gets underway in Bahrain on Friday morning. Team Principal Gunther Steiner announced this last month, saying there were no concerns about the delay because large parts of the car have been frozen despite Ferrari are bringing an upgraded power unit.

He told Motorsport.com “The fire-up will be in Bahrain. With all the flyaway races anyway the engines go back to Maranello, and then they come back to the race track, and go straight into the car. So it’s not anything new.”

“But it’s not ideal, because even if it is a carryover car, there are still some new parts. You want to do as much at home as you can. If you cannot, then you need to find ways, but I think we will be all right. As long as it sounds good when we fire it up the first time, it’s not a problem!”

The team tweeted a video which suggested the fire up went to plan.

Haas are not the only team that has been impacted by coronavirus restrictions Renault engineers who travelled from France for Alpine’s first fire-up and subsequent shakedown at Silverstone were obliged to quarantine first.

Honda’s engineers flew to Italy in early January for a test with Yuki Tsunoda in an old Toro Rosso, and then remained on site for several weeks so that they could take care of the ATR02 factory fire up and filming day at Imola in late February.


Haas needs to be “feisty” – Schumacher

Mick Schumacher believes Haas needs to be “feisty” like its new livery as he prepares for his debut with the team in Bahrain later this month. Thirty years after his father made his debut, the young Schumacher will start his formula one journey tomorrow when testing begins at the Sakhir circuit.

Haas has unveiled a heavily-revised livery for its 2021 car last week, changing its colour scheme to the red, white and blue colours of Russian title sponsor Uralkali. However, the design has been placed under investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has extended its ban on Russian athletes from competing under the Russian flag until 2023 as punishment for doping offences at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Asked what he thought of the Russian livery, Schumacher said he hoped it could encapsulate the team’s approach for the coming season. He told reporters, “I think it’s the team colours, and I think the car looks great.”

“I think it looks beasty, it looks feisty, and definitely that’s how we’re going to approach the season too. We’re going to going to work our way through and work very strongly on ourselves and on the car.

Teammate Nikita Mazepin completed a shakedown this morning before both drivers get a chance to drive the car on Friday.

The team has already announced it will not spend time developing the car, preferring to place its focus on the changing regulations coming for 2022.

Despite the lack of development on the car, Schumacher was confident Haas would be able to exploit every area of performance it could with the baseline it will begin the year with. He says the test was about trying to get everything right so when he is in races he can push.

Adding “It’s very important to have a very good relationship and communication with the team, and to use and take every opportunity to get forwards – to get points, to get whatever it might be, to basically be open-minded for every situation that you may face in a race or in a weekend.”


Mazepin doubts he’ll carry aggressive driving style

Nikita Mazepin says he has no concerns about facing penalties because of his driving style like he did in Formula Two because he believes Formula One needs “a very different driving style.” The Russian driver will make his F1 debut with Haas in Bahrain after finishing fifth in last years F2 championship.

Mazepin finished 2020 with eleven points on his super licence, just one point shy of a race ban. However, he will start 2021 with a clean driving licence as he moves into F1. The Russian says he does not have any concerns about the stewarding in F1, explaining how he will need a different driving style with Haas given he is no longer fighting for a championship.

He told Autosport, “It’s not something that I fear because I’m confident that’s not going to happen. I take a lot of time to go through the regulations, study them and understand them, understand where that fine line is.”

“Like one of the great racing drivers said, if you don’t go for a gap that exists, you’re no longer a racing driver, and I think this is applicable to every driver in F1. To get there you do need to be willing to take every opportunity because if you will not be doing it, somebody else will. You obviously sometimes overstep that line.”

Mazepin says he is confident that he would have a different driving style, saying that you need a very different driving style needed when you are fighting for a championship and fighting further back down the grid.


What you need to know for testing

F1 will be on track officially for the first time since the end of the Abu Dhabi young drivers test for the shortest ever pre-season test in Bahrain. Teams have twenty-eight hours spilt into six four-hour sessions where they will be looking to develop the cars, find out how far they can push until they break or find problems.

Three teams go into this test with an unchanged driver line up, but for many, these next three days will see the focus on getting the drivers and teams used to working together, building those personal relationships between the drivers and teams. It’s not only drivers who change teams it’s also personnel and back-room staff as well.

Each race driver in most cases will get up to twelve hours or a day and a half in the car while some may get only a day in the car. Some teams will only give their drivers a day each choosing to run reserve drivers or will give their drivers one session on each day of the test.

The test is shorter than last year due to the pandemic and the decision to carry over large part’s of 2020 cars, but that means that there is less time for the to get up to speed, resolve any issues that may arise and gauge the quality of the competition.

Teams will be keeping everything crossed that when they hit the track, they stay on track and don’t lose time because of reliability issues. Any unnecessary delay in the garage could prove costly. The pandemic has also seen Haas unable to do its shakedown test.

Also, the test timetable has changed for the first time there will be some twilight and night testing, the first session running from 10am (07:00 GMT) to 14:00 (12:00) and 15:00 (13:00) to 19:00 (17:00), sunset being at 17:45. The transition from day to night is always a tricky one with set up as we will see in the race weekend.

In the final ten minutes of testing last year the bombshell which would set the tone for Ferrari’s season was dropped, when a ‘settlement’ was reached between the manufacturer and FIA was reached. It explained why there was a loss of performance but what they were doing still remains a mystery…

A car designed for the extra horsepower they were benefiting from in 2019, was now hamstrung. And to add to Ferrari’s woes, their competitors had improved their power units and it showed on the track.


Friday’s driver line up

Here is Friday’s driver line up for each of the teams for the opening day of pre-season testing

Mercedes Valtteri Bottas Sir Lewis Hamilton
Red Bull – Honda Max Verstappen
McLaren – Mercedes Daniel Ricciardo Lando Norris
Aston Martin – Mercedes Sebastian Vettel Lance Stroll
Alpine Esteban Ocon
Ferrari Charles Leclerc Carlos Sainz Jr
Alpha Tauri – Honda Pierre Gasly Yuki Tsunoda
Alfa Romeo – Ferrari Kimi Räikkönen Antonio Giovinazzi
Haas – Ferrari Mick Schum Nikita Mazepin
Williams – Mercedes Roy Nissany


Ferrari takes up Bahrain Vaccine offer

Ferrari has taken up Bahrain’s offer of Coronavirus vaccinations ahead of testing and this month’s season-opener, despite the sport’s stated reluctance to jump any queues. However it has yet to confirm this report in the Italian media.

The Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reported on Wednesday that 90% of Ferrari staff travelling to Bahrain had accepted the offer of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on arrival after health authorities in Italy raised no objections. Although the team has not commented on the report.

Officially F1 policy for vaccination is to follow the UK government rollout, set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, as the majority of teams and F1 are based in England.

Mercedes and other teams have said whether personnel take the vaccine was a Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff, who has had the virus, told German reporters last week the team was neutral on the subject.

“It is a personal decision who would like to be vaccinated and who would not and not a decision that we make as a team, in one direction or the other,” said the Austrian.

Italy has registered more than 100,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain, and the country’s vaccination campaign has started slowly.

Bahrain GP organisers last month offered jabs to all participants ahead of this weekend’s testing, with a second dose delivered after the March 28 race. However, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told reporters the most vulnerable in society remained the priority.

Saying, “We need to be prudent and see and respect what is the situation with the more vulnerable people and we don’t want to be seen as the ones taking away for sure.”


Vasseur tests positive for coronavirus

Alfa Romeo Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur will miss the Sakhir test after testing positive for Coronavirus, F1 has announced. The team say he has not travelled to Bahrain and is self-isolating at home, despite a second PCR test returning a negative result.

No other members of the Alfa Romeo Racing team have been affected, and the procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 will ensure no wider impact on this week’s pre-season test which will continue as planned.

The sport normally announces its testing figures on Friday.


Keith Green dies aged eighty three

Keith Green who competed in hand full of races in the 1960s before going on to have a forty-five-year managerial career has died aged eighty-three. While sportscar racing was his specialism he did compete in a handful of Grand Prix, the highlight of his career was winning back to back BTCC titles with Alan Mann in 1967 and 1968.

Greene was subsequently at the helm of the Spice team for its hat-trick of victories at the Spa 24 Hours in 1978-80 with the Ford Capri, as well as for the majority of the period in which it enjoyed a stranglehold of the top class of the BTCC between 1976 and 1980.

He also was part of the Rondeau victory at Le Mans in 1980 before coming team manager. Greene grew up around motor racing: his father Syd ran a race team as an off-shoot of his Gilby Engineering business.

Encouraged by his father, he began racing aged 17 at the wheel of a Cooper-Climax T39 ‘Manxtail’ and even raced the Maserati 250F that Gilby had fielded for Roy Salvadori in the mid-1950s.

He attempted to qualify for his first race in F1 in 1959 at Aintree failing to qualify, the following season he managed to qualify in a Cooper.


Silverstone “totally supportive of sprint races

Silverstone is “totally supportive” of plans to trial F1’s new sprint race at this years British Grand Prix. Subject to final approval from the teams, the sport is planning to trial shorter races on Saturdays in addition to the main Grand Prix at three events in 2021 received the broad support of teams when first discussed last month.

It is expected these plans will be signed off by the teams in the next fortnight in Bahrain. F1 is yet to formally announce where these races are to be held, and Silverstone has not been one of the circuits hinted at officially. Although F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told The Daily Mail: “What I can say is that Silverstone will hold a sprint race.”

According to Sky Sports the decision on the sprint races is due to happen in between testing and the opening race in Bahrain, with Silverstone to host one of the three should the plans get the green light.

Asked if they welcomed the plans, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told Sky Sports: “Absolutely. If F1 should decide that Silverstone is the right venue for a sprint race then we would be totally supportive of that and feel it would be fantastic spectacle for the fans.”

The venues which have been chosen are known for exciting racing, they are the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Monza and Interlagos, all known for exciting races.

After running two Grands Prix behind closed doors last summer due to the pandemic on F1’s rejigged 2020 calendar, Silverstone is hopeful they will be able to welcome back capacity crowds to an event that attracted a race-day crowd of 141,000 in 2019.


The weekend ahead

This weekend is not about going for anything in terms of points its about understanding these new cars, the headlines since the pandemic began has been about the cars being frozen. While large parts of the car have been frozen there has been a 10% cut in downforce.

You need to always look at the big picture, we know Mercedes tend to fouls on long runs rather than single lap pace for the majority of the test. The point of the next three days is about learning how the development of these cars have progressed over the winter, these are basically the same chassis as last years minus ten per cent downforce.

Eyes will be on Ferrari as they have a new engine how will that affect their recovery following the issues, they had last season following the technical directive on the final day in Barcelona last year. This is key in their target to see them return to the top midfield and close the gap to Red Bull, that’s the realistic target they have set themselves.

But the thing we learnt at testing last year which continued throughout the season, was how close the midfield is and you have to believe that will continue to be the case. Testing will give us an idea of who is where and what improvements teams have managed to make over the winter, Aston Martin was the stand out performers across the whole of last year though they were pipped to third by McLaren in the constructors.

McLaren also has switched to Mercedes power units and it will be interesting to compare that to Aston Martin, as they in theory I believe have equal machinery. They were so close mid-season, there were questions about whether the Renault PU was preventing a closer challenge we will get an indication of that.


You can join us for LIVE coverage of this weekend’s Bahrain Test via Twitter @FormulaOneVault starting with Friday from 14:45 / 11:45 GMT, and every afternoon over the weekend. Notebook throughout the weekend, F1 Today is back Tuesday.

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.