F1 test 2021: Good debut for Sainz with Ferrari and Alpine delights Alonso

In a preseason test it is of little use to look at the times. Everyone hides their cards and goes through a very different work schedule, giving no clues to their rivals. What matters are the sensations, and the most important key is to roll and roll, as much as possible, like a spinning top. This allows teams to detect potential problems prior to the campaign, confirm their reliability, collect very important data for the season, know the correlation of track data and simulations and also that the drivers adapt to their new car to start to understand their reactions and which way to go to find the correct setup on each track. In all this he worked Carlos Sainz in his official debut with Ferrari on the afternoon session of the first day of pre-season testing


Formula 1
, in which he made a total of 57 laps finishing 5th with a good lap at the end of the session, when he pressed the accelerator a little more.

Sainz only had a little scare at the start with cold tires on a very delicate track due to the sandstorm in the desert. The strong gusts of wind kicked up a lot of sand, which stuck to the aerodynamic appendages of the cars and made the track very slippery. In fact, Carlos himself had already warned him minutes before: “The conditions are difficult for a first day, because the wind is very strong and there is some dust on the track and it will not be an easy day, but I have to do the planned work and complete the work program.”

But this did not stop Sainz in his pursuit of the great goal he set for himself, that of driving everything he could and making the most of this first session of the total day and a half he will have to ride in these three days to get used to his new machine in a hurry, with a firm step, to reach the first race of the year (March 28 in Bahrain) at the highest level.

As he has already repeated Carlos On many occasions, the challenge of adapting to a new car with only a day and a half of testing is very complex and this will make you start at a disadvantage over your partner Leclerc facing the first part of the course, but to minimize this loss, he has been working for months. In fact, moments before getting in the car, at the official FIA press conference, Carlos that was how it stood out. “I feel good. I’m a little impatient, I won’t lie. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. Yesterday we did the ‘filming day’, but with the prototype tires. And we have done tests with old cars, but today is the day for which I have been working on the simulator, for which I have been preparing with the engineers to arrive here as ready as possible ”.

Carlos Sainz, in the F1 2021 preseason test with Ferrari, in the middle of a sandstorm

The hours and hours of the simulator and many other meetings, in addition to the Fiorano tests with the 2018 Ferrari and the Jerez test with the 2019 Ferrari with the 2022 wheels, helped him face the challenge with more confidence. Also the fact of having rolled 10 laps the day before in the ‘filming day’ that Ferrari did on this track with the SF21, albeit with prototype wheels. But today was the day of truth, he could not afford mistakes and despite going long in a sand-filled corner in one of his first turns, he continued with his head down and his overalls on to fulfill the planned program.

Even if you had been told to bend over to change something in your car in the box, there is no doubt that you would have done it. His commitment and team feeling has left its mark on all the teams he has gone through and Ferrari will be no exception.

Leclerc had a problem at the end of the morning

First to Carlos had to watch the morning session from the barriers while Leclerc made 59 laps. There was only one difficult moment, with 10 minutes remaining in the morning session, when Charles had to park his car due to a problem. However, Ferrari solved it in time and the best news for the Italians is that this failure was not repeated. And it is that as we have said, That’s what the tests are for, to detect setbacks and that they are not repeated during the course to little by little put the car to the limit. After a good day of learning, Carlos will get back in the Ferrari in the morning session on Saturday and in the afternoon on Sunday. Sainz grits his teeth. “There are still a lot of things I have to learn from this year’s car and probably after the day and a half that I will have, maybe I will continue on the learning curve in the first few races. So we’ll see “said the Spanish.

Carlos Sainz, in the 2021 F1 preseason test with Ferrari
Carlos Sainz, in the 2021 F1 preseason test with Ferrari

Alpine, third and smooth

We have already said that the times of a test count for almost nothing, although nobody is bitter by a sweet, and for now, vSeeing an Alpine in third position in the standings on test day 1 is not a bad sign. But without any doubt, the best news were the 128 turns that Esteban Ocon gave, in charge of premiering these tests for the French team under the watchful eye of Fernando Alonso, whose turn comes this Saturday.

Ocon, with the Alpine in F1 2021 test day 1
Ocon, with the Alpine in F1 2021 test day 1

The Asturian, like a caged lion and after many months of intense preparation and waiting, knows that his big day has arrived. Will face it with optimism after seeing that his car confirmed its reliability, especially that of a French engine improved. Ocon’s 128 turns with the Alpine, without apparent problems, allowed the Frenchman to collect a lot of data, and this Saturday Fernando will begin his adaptation to the car to try to reach the highest level at the first appointment of the course.

Fernando Alonso, in Bahrain
Fernando Alonso, in Bahrain

Mercedes, first day with problems

At the moment, it is impossible to make comparisons of rhythms and predictions of positions. It seems clear that Mercedes must be the great favorite for this entire course, as always since 2014, but for now, It cannot be said that the preseason started well for those of the star. They started the day surprising with an innovated flat bottomr with several frightening ripples. But after Bottas’ installation lap, sthey raised all the alarms due to a problem in the gearbox that made them lose more than 3 hours of testing. And that, in a test of only 3 days, is a lot of time wasted.

Valtteri left at the end of the morning to complete 5 more laps and in the afternoon it was the turn of the champion Lewis Hamilton, who hit the track an hour late to finally complete 42 laps, hiding his true potential, but at least confirming that Bottas’ setbacks were not repeated.

Lewis Hamilton, rolling in the afternoon
Lewis Hamilton, rolling in the afternoon

Verstappen stomps with Red Bull

Lewis did not want to look at the times and possibly, with the champion team, he does not want to do it until he reaches the first race of the year. But for now yes he should worry about the one who is running as his great antagonist, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, which started out stomping. In all energy drinks they do not want to repeat the mistake of the previous courses and they want to have a winning car from the start. That the current cars are pure evolutions (limited by regulations) of the 2020 cars seems to assure them that first objective. And to start with, they gave a first show of force with a Max that led the times table with a 1.30 ”674, leaving Norris (McLaren) at 0 ”215 and Ocon (Alpine) at more than 4 tenths. What impressed the most, however, was the RB16B’s reliability, which allowed Max to finish as the driver with the most laps completed, reaching a whopping 138 laps.


1. Verstappen (C3) Red Bull 1’30”674 (139)

2. Norris (C3) McLaren at 0”215 (46)

3. Ocon (C4) Alpine at 0”472 (129)

4. Stroll (Proto) Aston Martin at 1’’108 (46)

5. Sainz (C3) Ferrari at 1”245 (57)

6. Giovinazzi (C3) Alfa Romeo at 1”271 (68)

7. Ricciardo (C2) McLaren at 1”529 (45)

8. Gasly (C3) AlphaTauri at 1”557 (74)

9. Tsunoda (C2) AlphaTauri at 2”053 (37)

10. Hamilton (C2) Mercedes at 2”238 (42)

11. Leclerc (C3) Ferrari at 2”568 (59)

12. Räikkönen (C3) Alfa Romeo at 2’’646 (63)

13. Vettel (Proto) Aston Martin at 3”068 (51)

14. Nissany (C3) Williams at 4”115 (83)

15. Mazepin (C3) Haas at 4”124 (70)

16. Schumacher (C2) Haas at 5”453 (15)

17. Bottas (C2) Mercedes at 6”176 (6)


1.Ricciardo (C2) McLaren 1’32’’203 (45 laps)

2.Gasly (C3) AlphaTauri at 0”028 (74)

3.Verstappen (C2) Red Bull at 0”042 (60)

4. Ocon (C3) Alpine at 0”756 (55)

5. Leclerc (C3) Ferrari at 1”039 (59)

6. Räikkönen (C3) Alfa Romeo at 1’’117 (63)

7.Vettel (Prototype) Aston Martin at 1”539 (51)

8.Nissany (C3) Williams at 2”586 (39)

9.Schumacher (C2) Haas at 3”924 (15)

10 Bottas (C2) Mercedes at 4”647 (6)