The first day of testing is now under the belt of almost all the drivers, with only Sergio Perez on the sidelines for Red Bull before he gets in the car on Friday.
The injured Lance Stroll was also replaced by Aston Martin reserve driver and Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich for the morning of testing, but it was Max Verstappen who topped the timesheets and completed more laps than anyone else on Thursday.
But with plenty of laps having been done and a lot of data gathered on the first of three days of running now complete, here is a look at what each driver had to say after the day of testing finished in Bahrain.
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.”
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”.
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.”
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.”
Pierre Gasly: “In the car I was super excited, I think it went really well. I managed to do most of the programme. It’s cool to be back driving after a long winter, and it was really good. I’m really happy, the feeling is very positive, so we need to get to work.”
Esteban Ocon [via Twitter]: “Good mileage + useful data = productive first day. Back for more in the am”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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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.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “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.”
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.”
Alex Albon: “We’ve got some good mileage in, that’s positive. So far the FW45’s been pretty reliable. I don’t want to say too much, but it feels like coming from filming days and today, we’re getting useful laps. In terms of pace, it is really hard to say. I’d say on an initial looks it looks quite close out there in that kind of midfield section. We’ve got some work to do.”
Logan Sargeant: “It was nice to finally get the chance to get comfortable in the car. I feel like I did build up comfortability throughout the day, but I think it was relatively tricky. Grip seemed relatively low, but definitely a few things to work on going into tomorrow. Another full day tomorrow so that gives me another chance to take another step forward, and I think we were moving in the right direction.”
[Both Williams drivers were speaking to Formula1.com after the session.]