The first Friday of free practice of the 2021 season saw Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow tackle a particularly busy programme, making the most of the available track time, which has been reduced by a third compared to last year. Track and weather conditions were very different to those in testing at this track two weeks ago, as can be seen from the lap times. The team worked on fine tuning the SF21, mainly with a view to the race, concentrating on tyre management.
FP1. In the first hour, which is always less relevant given the high temperatures and the sand on track, the two SF21s ran on the Soft compound tyres: Charles did 14 laps, one less than Carlos. The Monegasque’s best time was a 1’31”993, while his team-mate posted a 1’32”366.
FP2. The session began at 18 local time and the team started work in qualifying trim but soon after focussed on the race, doing long runs with each driver on a different programme to acquire as much data as possible. On the Soft tyres, Carlos’ best time was a 1’31”127, while Charles, who encountered traffic on his simulation run, stopped the clocks in 1’31”612. For the rest of the time, both drivers worked on tyre evaluation, to assess potential strategies for qualifying with a view to the race. Carlos did 26 laps on the Medium compound, while Charles did the same number of laps on the Softs.
Tomorrow. Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying gets underway at 18 local (16 CET) tomorrow, preceded by the final free practice session at 15 (13 CET).
Carlos Sainz #55
"Today we had very different conditions in the first and second sessions. In FP1 everything felt fairly normal and going into FP2 the conditions changed quite a bit in terms of wind and obviously track temperature. It made the car and the balance trickier, and it brought the field together. We were surprised with how tight the short runs were in terms of performance. Every lap I do with the car I get to understand it a bit better, how it behaves and how it adapts to the changing conditions. It takes some time, so it was important for me to have a clean Friday and complete our programme. Tomorrow it could be a different story again, with different conditions, especially the wind, so we need to take it step by step, building up to Qualifying."
Charles Leclerc #16
"Today has been a good day and maybe we didn’t expect to be as competitive. Though it’s still very early days for now, FP1 was positive on my side and FP2 a bit less. I’ve been struggling a little bit with the car rear end and didn’t manage to finish the lap I wanted to, but even though overall there’s still a lot of work to do I can feel there’s a lot of motivation in the team and I can see and feel the improvements that have been made since last year. This is good for now. Tomorrow will be the day when we’ll know exactly where we are compared to the others as this is when everyone will push to the limit; everything will be clear in qualifying. Even though we expect the usual cars will still be at the front, the field is very very tight and I think qualifying tomorrow will be very tight too but this is exciting and this is what we like as drivers to try and make the difference."