Formula 1

Formula 1 Testing – What the Drivers are Saying Heading into 2024 – Part 2

6 Mins read
Credit: Simon Galloway / LAT Images

The three-day pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit concluded last week, and the next track action will come at the same track this coming weekend for the first Grand Prix of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

It was a pretty uneventful test for Formula 1 – aside from a couple of stoppages due to loose drain covers – with the majority of teams getting through their programmes.  Aside from Williams Racing on the opening day and McLaren F1 Team on Day 2, everyone broke the one hundred lap barrier on each day, with the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team the busiest of all.

But what have the drivers made of pre-season testing and their new 2024 machinery.  Who will go into the new season with confidence and who will be feeling they are on the back foot?  Here is part two!

#10 – Pierre Gasly – BWT Alpine F1 Team

“We did a lot of testing this week and now we have an important week coming up where we will go through all the data and continue our understanding of this new car concept. It’s vital to learn all about the entire package and understanding how we can optimise it.

“On my side, it’s been quite tricky at times especially as we missed out on some running both yesterday and today. The red flag was unfortunate on Day 2, then this afternoon we had the wheel brow coming loose from the car and that meant we missed a couple of laps at the end.

“Still, it’s been a productive test for the team across the last three days and that is most important. I’m definitely excited for the first race.”

#31 – Esteban Ocon – BWT Alpine F1 Team

“Overall, it was a productive three-day test for us, probably one of the strongest during my time at the team. Since I jumped in the car, from Day 1 everything has been faultless and strong from an operational standpoint.

“The car has been working reliably and we managed to complete our testing programme. We improved the car and made progress from the first day to the last day. But we have a lot of work to do and it’s going to be interesting now to go through all the data and understand where we can make improvements.

“Three days of testing is short for a new car, so there’s still a lot to learn and extract from our package. Thanks to everyone at the team here, at Enstone and Viry for the long hours over the winter. Now it’s time to go racing.”

Esteban Ocon feels Alpine are in a good place heading into 2024 – Credit: Andy Hone / LAT Images

#2 – Logan Sargeant – Williams Racing

“We still had a couple of issues throughout the day but the red flag definitely helped with the extended session. It was generally a positive day; we made good headway in the right direction and know where we’re heading.

“There are lots of positives despite there being some things for us to fix, but I’m looking forward to getting back into the rhythm as I started to feel more comfortable throughout the day. I’m fighting the car a little more than I’d like but those things will come together soon.

“It’s still a great day of experience ahead of next weekend. Testing went by quickly and I definitely would’ve liked another day but it will be great to see Alex in the car tomorrow and for us to keep testing the car.” 

#23 – Alexander Albon – Williams Racing

“Firstly, we’ve got a decent car to go racing with. I do think we struggled a little bit with the car across day one and two with just how different it is, struggling to rebalance it, but we made some big headway in making the car more driveable.

“With the changing car characteristics, we shifted some of our historical problems to different areas. Still, we’ve been able to fix some of these but unfortunately in the process, we’ve picked up a few things we didn’t like. Despite this, we did a bit of a radical set-up today and this worked out for the better.

“Looking at the rest of the grid, the midfield has closed up a lot with everyone making a big jump from last year, so it’s all quite equal throughout the field. This year is going to be all about the fine details and potential tracks that better suit others, so there are going to be lots of interesting battles.”

Alexander Albon belives Williams have a good car for the 2024 season – Credit: Simon Galloway / LAT Images

#3 – Daniel Ricciardo – Visa CashApp RB

“I think testing has been good and we’ve definitely developed the car from last year. I completed plenty of laps and feel pretty fit. Unfortunately, there were some issues on track with the drain, and we were worried we wouldn’t get our race run in, but luckily, we did.

“I did some short runs on Day 1 and 2 and race simulation this morning. In terms of performance, I think we’re where we expected to be. We’re aiming to fight in the midfield group and we’ll try to make the most of what we got.

“Overall, it was a smooth test, so I don’t think we leave here with any concerns. We made some gains and know where we are, but if we want to make sure to fight for Q3 and points consistently, there’s certainly a bit more we need to find.”

#22 – Yuki Tsunoda – Visa CashApp RB

Testing went fairly smooth. We didn’t exactly follow our run programme as there were some issues with the track, but we responded well to them. I felt the car has made a good step forward compared to last year, so I’m happy with it so far.

“The balance has improved, and especially the front felt strong. We still have to find more with the rear, but it’s moving in the right direction. I completed many laps over the last couple of days and it was a good experience that allowed us to collect good data and help find the limit of the car.

“Looking at the timesheet, we’re not last, but it’s difficult to know where we are compared to the rest of the field, so I’m excited to start racing again next week.”

Yuki Tsunoda had a good feel of the new VCARB 01 in Bahrain – Credit: Simon Galloway / LAT Images

#24 – Zhou Guanyu – Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

“We had another good day where we focused a lot on our long runs and managed to complete a second full race distance. We got through our programme and experimented with various setups and configurations to draw our conclusions.

“It’s challenging to evaluate the full potential, especially with a completely new car, and we’ll continue working and making strides over the next few days to be ready for the upcoming weekend. However, the true performance and how we rank compared to the other teams is yet to be seen until the first qualifying and race.

“We feel good and will use the remaining days to learn and find margins for improvement.”

#77 – Valtteri Bottas – Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

“Today was a bit more challenging as the red flag cost us quite some running time. Ending the session with some precautionary checks resulted in a few missed test items and laps, but we still managed to get through our planned priorities.

“We were able to learn more about the C44 and we feel reasonably prepared for next week’s race. It’s still quite difficult to evaluate the true performance and the competitive field, but we are confident in the data we collected.

“Now, it’s all about analysing, learning and improving ahead of the race weekend.”

Valtteri Bottas admits he is unsure where the Stake F1 Team are heading into the new season – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

#20 – Kevin Magnussen – MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

“You never get all the answers you need and you always want more time, as three days of testing – and splitting those days with two drivers – is limiting. Given the limited time, I think we’ve done a lot, got some good impressions of the car and the focus is trying to be good on Sunday.

“We’ve been doing a lot of high-fuel race running, trying to address that issue, and I think we’re going somewhere. We haven’t fixed the issue completely but hopefully it’s enough to make a difference on Sunday.

“I expect it to be very close between all teams again this year.”

#27 – Nico Hülkenberg – MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

“Today we got through the program and did what we wanted to do, so that was good. We completed a race run as well – I haven’t seen it compared to anyone else’s – but now we’ve got lots of impressions after three days of testing, lots of data and things to analyze.

“We’ve been able to do some experiments like most, as that’s what you do in testing, and it’s been good, positive. I have no idea where we stand, or what it’s worth, but we’ll get that answer in a week.

“It’s early days, but from in the car, from where I sit, if I compare the car to last year, it does feel better and like we’ve made a step in the right direction.”

Nico Hülkenberg feels positive Haas have improved their car compared to 2023 – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images
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