Williams Racing concludes productive three-day test in Bahrain

The Williams Racing team, partnered by Acronis, concluded a productive pre-season test session in Bahrain as preparations ramp up ahead of the 2021 Formula One season.

It seems like only yesterday that cars were zooming around the Sakhir Circuit as the COVID disrupted season concluded with a double header in Bahrain before culminating in Abu Dhabi.

Test driver Roy Nissany got the ball rolling on Friday and completed a substantial 83 laps on a bizarre opening day that saw a rare sandstorm make running a tricky proposition, the circuit more resembling a scene from Lawrence of Arabia than a race track!

“I think it was a strong first day even with the poor conditions where we experienced a lot of sand and dust in the air,” reflected Nissany. “We got the most out of the car and I am happy with my performance, and I think the engineers were as well. We collected all of the data that we wanted and tested a lot of items, so it has definitely been a very productive day, a lot of fun and a great opening to the season.”

The second day of the vitally important pre-season test session saw regular first team driver Nicholas Latifi take to the wheel, and the Canadian clocked up more mileage than any other driver in the field, racking up 132 laps in setting the 7th fastest time of 1m31.672s, that time 1.383s slower than the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and set on the C4 compound tyre.

“It was great to get some proper running back behind the wheel,” said Latifi. “It was nice to push the car in the dry and knock the dust off from the winter. It was a tricky day with the wind, but it was good to get some running in these conditions as there was lots to learn. As is normal in pre-season testing, there were a few half-spins as I was pushing to see what the limits were. I think we can be happy with the number of laps we completed today, and we now have a lot of data to analyse to be as prepared as possible for the first race of the season.”

Rounding off a highly encouraging three days of testing was George Russell, the Englishman completing a massive 158 laps in setting a quickest lap timeof 1:30.117s on the softest C5 tyre.

“It was a very productive day and we put a lot of laps on the board, 158 in the end,” said Russell. “The team did a great job over these three days, we have had no reliability issues, and everything ran smoothly. Ultimately performance is what we are here for and I think we have a lot to analyse. Some of our competitors do seem very quick, but equally I think the conditions did not always favour us. We have lots to analyse but overall, it has been a positive test for the team.”

As always with pre-season testing, not too much can ever be read into lap times, the primary focus being on data gathering over different runs and tyre compounds – and with fuel loads closely guarded. And it’s also a valuable opportunity for teams to blood all of their drivers and give test drivers track time.

For the record, it was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen who eventually sat atop the times after the three days, a 1m28.960s placing the Dutchman atop the pile, ahead of F1 rookie Yuki Tsonoda, Carlos Sainz, the evergreen Kimi Raikkonen and champion Lewis Hamilton.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.