It was not the ideal start to testing for reigning World Champions Mercedes after losing some precious track time during the first session of pre-season.
After an early installation lap, Valtteri Bottas was preparing to head back out onto the track for his first proper run in the Mercedes W12, but a problem occurred during the engine fire-up stage and the black screens were quickly assembled at the front of the garage.
The Silver Arrows quickly reported: “We have a gearshift problem and are swapping the gearbox to get back out on track, then we will diagnose the problem with the original gearbox.”
The issue occurred 45 minutes into the morning session and Bottas was still stuck in the garage an hour later, eating up precious track time in what is only a three-day test ahead of the 2021 season.
Mercedes, though, could at least see the funny side.
W12 on-track. 😍😍 pic.twitter.com/JnkPwfFj4z
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 12, 2021
After well over a two-hour delay in the garage, Bottas finally re-emerged on track with 35 minutes left on the morning session clock.
All eyes were on Mercedes for different reasons prior to the early setback as the black tape finally came off their floor area to reveal a unique design on the outer edges.
And Bottas himself also switched ‘eagle eye’ mode on to take a closer look at the Red Bull RB16B, set to be the biggest rival to Mercedes in 2021.
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) March 12, 2021
Meanwhile, there were issues at the Haas garage with Mick Schumacher forced to watch on from the sidelines due to an hydraulic problem with the VF-21. A new gearbox was fitted and he too re-emerged on the track before the lunch break.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) March 12, 2021