Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris shared the driving duties for the McLaren F1 Team on the opening day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday, with the Briton ending the day with the second fastest time overall.
Ricciardo had started the day and was quickest of anyone in the morning session, although his time was only good enough for seventh overall as the afternoon/evening session proved to be the quicker of the two sessions.
It was Ricciardo’s first official day on track as a McLaren driver following his move from the Renault DP World F1 Team, and he completed forty-five laps on Friday before handing over the MCL35M to Norris.
“It was really good to get back out in the car for my first proper session with McLaren,” said the Australian. “I was able to push the car a little bit and get more familiar with it.
“It was a smooth morning, everything ran well and that’s all you can ask in testing – you want reliability on your side and the team back in Woking has done an awesome job of giving us a great start on day one.
“We got a good amount of runs and laps done, with a focus on getting more and more familiar and comfortable in the car. The plan for the next few days is similar, we’re aiming to leave here feeling ready to go for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Happy days!”
“It’s quite a shock to feel the speed of a Formula 1 car again” – Lando Norris
Team-mate Norris completed forty-six laps of his own in the afternoon, with his best time of 1:30.889 seeing end second behind only Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
The Briton, starting his third season with McLaren in 2021, says it was pleasing to have a solid afternoon of testing, and the day was about going through their plan rather than looking for outright pace in the MCL35M.
“First of all, very happy to be back in a Formula 1 car,” said Norris. “It’s my first time putting the MCL35M to the test in the dry.
“It’s quite a shock to feel the speed of a Formula 1 car again, it’s been a while since I’ve had that sensation. It was a good shock and it felt nice to be back, but not as nice with the conditions today.
“The second half of the day was very dusty and windy which made it tricky, so it wasn’t the easiest first day back in the car. We spent the session going through our test programme, making sure there are no problems with the seat and that I’m comfortable in the car.
“We’ve got some things to work on from that side over the next couple of days. We’ll sit down and review everything this evening, but it’s been a solid first day. Thanks to everyone both here and back at the factory for all the hard work and making it such a smooth first day’s running.”
“The conditions were a bit special due to the wind and sand on the track” – Andrea Stella
Andrea Stella, the Executive Director of Racing at McLaren, says it was a productive opening day of testing, even if the conditions at the Bahrain International Circuit were far from ideal.
A sandstorm blew across the track in the afternoon, but despite this, Stella says they were still able to work through their programme almost without problems, and they will now head into the final two days of testing looking to build on what they’ve learned on day one.
“It was a productive first day of testing,” said Stella. “The conditions were a bit special due to the wind and sand on the track, but actually this didn’t affect the run plan very much as we could still compare data from run to run and from both drivers.
“We didn’t have any major issues today, only small things to fix here and there which is normal on the first day running a new car. But it’s only day one, and we’ll keep monitoring as we accumulate mileage on the car.
“We were able to run through our planned test items – Daniel running in the morning and Lando in the afternoon – with both drivers getting an early understanding of the car.
“We now need to optimise the remaining two days with preparation for the first race being shorter than ever, so we need to try and be as efficient as possible.”