F1 Testing | Drivers and teams react to the first day of running in 2023

Spread the love

Formula One returned to action today as 2023 pre-season testing kicked off in Bahrain.

Two-time defending World Champion Max Verstappen was quickest in his Red Bull from Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, although it’s far too early to read anything into what times they are all doing.

However, an impressive total of 1,276 laps was brought up by the ten teams and nineteen drivers on circuit today.

Max Verstappen

“We had a good day today, we completed a lot of laps which is what we wanted – almost three Grand Prix’s worth. It was also a smooth day; we barely had any issues and we could really focus on the car and try a few things. We had a lot of good running throughout the day when it was hot and sunny and also in the evening which is more representative. It’s nice to see how the car has evolved from last year. The behaviour is a bit different because of the tyres but otherwise, we are happy. It’s difficult to tell how the car will perform this season through one day of testing, the car is running well and that’s the most important thing. I’ll be running again tomorrow afternoon, so we’ll be trying out different compounds and seeing what else we can learn before the race next week.”

GianPiero Lambiase

“Today was a promising start to the 2023 season as we were able to complete the planned program without major reliability concerns.

“Everyone’s hard work over the winter has really paid off as the car hit the ground running in terms of balance, and we were able to concentrate on testing various broader aerodynamic and mechanical configurations to better understand the new platform as well as the subtlety modified tyre construction.

“We will continue to focus on ourselves and ensure we are as prepared for the first race as we can be by following a similar method over the next two days. There’s plenty of data analysis to do this evening, and then we look forward to Checo experiencing his first taste of the RB19 tomorrow.

“For Max, he has just four hours remaining before his season kicks off, so he needs to recover well overnight.”

Fernando Alonso

“Overall I am pleased with the first official day of testing here in Bahrain in the AMR23. As a team, we reached 100 laps in total, which is a strong start for the first day despite some minor issues that we resolved. We are still experimenting with lots of different things, so every lap we do is important and we learn something new about the car every time we go out. These first steps are always intriguing and so far I am enjoying this part of the winter preparation. We will use the information and learning from today to optimise things further tomorrow.”

Felipe Drugovich

“Driving the AMR23 for the first time today was great; I really enjoyed it. I spent a few laps at the beginning of the day familiarising myself with being back behind the wheel, but I felt like I got up to speed quickly and before long I was back in a good rhythm. Despite a small electronics issue, we completed our run plan and gathered some valuable data for the team. I did quite a lot of aerodynamic testing, which is incredibly important with a new car, but I also got to do a few push laps towards the end of the session, which were great fun. Finally, I want to wish Lance a quick recovery and also thank the team for trusting me with this opportunity.”

Tom McCullough

“A solid opening day of testing on the whole. We had a few issues, which cost us some track time, but when the car was running we were able to get through our test plan. We will have to recover the time we lost over the next two days to ensure we maximise our learnings ahead of the race next week. The car was responding well to the changes we made and we will continue to review the data this evening ahead of Fernando’s time in the car tomorrow. Felipe did an excellent job for us this morning with a lot procedural work to gather important aerodynamic data. He did not get quite as many laps in as we had planned due to this morning’s electronics issue, but in the time he did have he got up to speed quickly and did a really good job. Fernando made good progress during the afternoon session and is continuing to familiarise himself with the new car, tyres and people around him. His feedback was incredibly valuable and will be hugely beneficial as we continue to learn more about the AMR23.”

Carlos Sainz

“Overall a positive first day. Reliability was good and we could run smoothly, covering the whole run plan and gathering valuable data, which is encouraging. We progressed well with the setup during the day and we also managed to get good reads on the tyres we tested in Abu Dhabi so, overall good progress made so far and I’m looking forward to continuing tomorrow”.

Charles Leclerc

“We have a busy first day of testing behind us. We completed 64 laps on my side, testing a bit of everything. Our focus was on set-up work, combined with some tyre and aero testing, as well as runs with different fuel levels. We’re going to analyse our data now and I look forward to another session tomorrow”.

Lando Norris

“It was a reasonable first day. It was good to be back on track, to get a good number of laps under my belt and to get that first feeling from the car, so I’m happy with that. It wasn’t quite the smoothest of days with a few little setbacks here and there, but we got through a lot of the plan and some of the key test items, which we can learn from over the next few days as well some changes we can already start to implement. I’m feeling more comfortable in the car and have changed little things here and there to start to optimise a few things. As far as test days go, it was positive and I’m looking forward to going again tomorrow.”

Oscar Piastri

“My first morning of testing went pretty smoothly which is a good start to the season. We got through the programme we wanted to, which was great, with the focus being on getting myself back up to speed and used to the new generation of F1 cars. There is still a lot to learn and improvements to make but I think I’m getting there. It was good to get some laps on the board and everything felt pretty comfy. I’m looking forward to my next few sessions to keep improving and learning more about the car.”

Andrea Stella

“A productive day in Bahrain which went largely to plan. Despite a few very minor issues, which are common at testing, we’ve got a lot of information and were able to complete a lot of test items. There were some short delays caused by the team wanting to reinforce the bodywork in some places in order to prevent a failure. These were preventative measures, but we thought they were useful to make so we could run safely and reliably for the remainder of the day. Overall, a positive day. We hope to continue like this for day two and three so we’re ready for the first race of the season.”

Lewis Hamilton

“It’s good to be back in the car here in Bahrain. It was a nice, cool afternoon weather-wise, though windy. We got through our programme and have gathered lots of data. We also had good reliability which contributed to our strong mileage total; that is down to the amazing work done back at Brackley and Brixworth. We’ve got to keep pushing, focus on ourselves, and stay focused. It’s difficult to know where we are in the order, but we’ll get a better feeling in the days to come.”

George Russell

“It was great to be back out in the car and get a first real experience of the W14. It is still too early to say where our performance levels are relative to the competition, but we had a clean day and learned a lot. There are plenty of positives to take away and we can focus on maximising the potential of the car in the coming days.”

Andrew Shovlin

“We’ve had a solid start to testing. The car has run faultlessly from start to finish and that has allowed us to complete an ambitious programme for day one. It always takes a few days to understand a new car, but we’ve got a reasonable handle on where we want to improve the balance. It was encouraging that it’s a much calmer, more stable platform to work with than the W13.

“The performance picture is always blurred after the first day so it’s impossible to say where we stand, but we’ve already identified several key areas where we can find some performance. We’ll work on the assumption that we’re playing catch-up and need to pull out all the stops to find performance ahead of the first race here in one week’s time. The next two days are going to be just as packed as today as we’re squeezing every bit of learning we can into the programme. Hopefully the car continues to run like clockwork, and we can make the most of the remaining track time.”

Alex Albon

“We got some good mileage in today which is a positive. So far, the FW45 is going okay and it’s been really useful to get some good laps in. In terms of pace, it’s really hard to say, especially in that mid-field section. We have a lot of work to do but I think these conditions are more representative of what we’re going to experience during the year, with the heat and the wind, compared to our rollout at Silverstone. It’s only day one of testing but it’s already been important for us to compare where we are year on year, seeing if we’ve improved in the right areas, and continuing to fine tune the car further and get into a sweet spot.”

Logan Sargeant

“It was nice to finally get the chance to get comfortable in the car. We got through a really busy run plan between Alex and myself which is great work from the team. I think it was relatively tricky as grip seemed quite low. There a few things to work on going into the next two days but we’re moving in the right direction. I’m hoping to make another good step forward tomorrow with a full day of driving.”

Dave Robson

“We had a productive day of testing and completed everything that we planned. The drivers shared the workload and each now has one full day of testing before the opening race of the season. Both drove well today and quickly found a rhythm and confidence with the car.

”The FW45 ran reliably all day and we found no major issues. With only three days of pre-season testing, this is very important.

”Conditions today were a little tricky, with the wind gusts affecting the car’s behaviour, and the tyre performance changing as the track temperature varied. But this is typical for Bahrain and almost certainly representative of what we will face next weekend.

”We got a lot done today and our challenge now is to complete the analysis in time to influence the setup and run programme for tomorrow.

”Thanks to the hard work of everyone here and in Grove, we’ve had a strong start to the new season but there is a long way yet to go. And this starts tomorrow.”

Zhou Guanyu

“It felt good to be back in the car today. Everything went quite smoothly, and I felt comfortable straight away. Of course, this is only the opening day of testing, and there is plenty of work ahead for everyone, but it’s been a positive start. We have been able to complete all of our schedule, even though there was a pretty long red flag at the very beginning of the day. Overall, I can consider myself quite happy.”

Valtteri Bottas

“Our running has been good today, we got through the whole program, which was our objective for today. Getting good mileage in on the first day of testing is the most important thing, and we were able to learn more about the car, find out the first indications on which setups work, how the new tyres feel and all of that. Overall, it’s been a good Day One; there is still work to do, of course, but it has been a good start and I can already feel some improvements from last year.”

Nico Hülkenberg

“It feels good to be back! It’s been an exciting few days but I’m happy to now put the ‘theory’ aside and start the practical part of the job, get in the car again, and live it. I had good fun, 51 laps was quality work I would say – a bit less than maybe what we wanted to do – but they were quality laps. It’s about starting somewhere and then learn as you go with the car, making changes and see how the car reacts, so in that respect it was a successful morning.”

Kevin Magnussen

“We had a few little issues but we got through what we planned – maybe two laps were missed! It went smoothly for the first day of testing and we haven’t got anywhere near qualifying simulations yet so we’ll see tomorrow when we get slightly closer to those levels, but I’m pretty happy so far. I think everything indicates that we’re in a good position and right now it’s about working – not competing – just collecting knowledge on the car.”

Ayao Komatsu

“The objective of the first day of pre-season testing was to understand the fundamentals of the car – ride-height, stiffness, balance in the right window and mileage and reliability – so we tried to do as many laps as possible. We didn’t 100 percent meet our objectives, but Nico did 51 laps in the morning and Kevin did 57 laps in the afternoon, which is pretty good. We only had minor issues, but we understand the solution. It’s too early to talk about performance but our initial feeling is good from what we achieved – so it’s a good start for day one.”

Nyck de Vries

“Today was our first day back on track with the AT04 at pre-season testing. In terms of execution and reliability, we had a positive day. Conditions were quite challenging with high track temperatures and strong winds, although this was the same for everybody. Ultimately, we went through the programme and even if it’s early, we continue to work on learning about our car and gathering as much data as possible.“

Yuki Tsunoda

“Today went smooth as a team. We were able to achieve the targets that we had set out and I’m happy with how I felt in the car. Compared to last year’s AT03, I can feel the clear progress we’ve made. We have identified things that we will need to improve on to make the car better in terms of balance, but there is a lot of potential. I am excited to see how the car will progress over the next days of testing.”

Jody Egginton

“It was a solid first day with no issues with the car and only a single red flag in the morning, allowing for the majority of the run programme to be completed. Yuki drove first, with the early part of the morning given over to running the sidepod rakes and conducting several related aero tests. The data gathered from this is an important part of the correlation process. Following these tests, Yuki moved on to work on a number of test items and some basic set-up work, before handing over to Nyck for the afternoon session. Nyck continued with the various test items, making good use of both the C2 & C3 tyre compounds to also gather some very useful tyre data in the afternoon. It’s early days and, as normal, there will be variations in fuel loads and run programmes across the teams, but overall, we are happy with what we have learnt today. It gives us a clear idea of what to focus on going forward and we aim to build on this throughout the next two days.”

Matt Harman, Technical Director, BWT Alpine F1 Team: “It’s great to be back in Bahrain for pre-season testing, which is a crucial time for all teams in preparing the cars for the season ahead. What is most important across these three days is adding mileage to the board and building a consistent platform to work from in gathering useful data. We’re satisfied with how our day progressed today with Pierre driving in the morning and Esteban in the afternoon. Our programme focused on characterising our aerodynamic package, understanding the mechanical balance on the car and putting together an accurate and consistent set-up to allow us to continue building our knowledge ahead of the next two days. All our systems worked as expected, the drivers delivered similar feedback across the sessions and that means we’re in good stead to continue our learning on Friday with Esteban back in the car in the morning and Pierre in the afternoon.”

Images: Red Bull Content Pool, Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team, Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren Racing, Williams Racing, Alfa Romeo F1 Stake, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, BWT Alpine F1 Team