Watch Live >> F1 Live stream Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2021 Qualifying
Ferrari’s steady lap times at pre-season testing and cautious optimism about their new package – with Charles Leclerc only declaring it was a “bit” better than the car that was sixth-fastest in F1 last year – meant the sport’s most successful team arrived for 2021’s season-opener somewhat under the radar.
Perhaps that has helped, as Ferrari steadily got about their business on Friday and impressively finished the day with the fourth-fastest time through new signing Carlos Sainz. And that followed Leclerc placing fifth in first practice.
It’s very, very early stages in Ferrari’s rebuild – but encouraging signs nonetheless. They appear to be a strong midfield runner this weekend, maybe ahead of expected close rivals Aston Martin and Alpine.
Back to Mercedes and a not-so-subtle hint from Wolff on his feelings about the reason for the change of regulations at the rear of the car for 2021 to cut downforce and lap times.
“I’m sure it has been specifically designed to somehow change the pecking order. But we knew that,” Wolff told Sky F1.
“We knew that the low-rake concept is going to be a car that is going to be more penalised than the high rake.
But it’s still a big challenge for us and we embrace the competition. It’s just about doing the best-possible job without complaining.”
On the first race weekend since the passing of the legendary Murray Walker at the age of 97, the broadcasting legend continues to be remembered around the paddock,
with Williams displaying what classes as arguably Murray’s most famous line on their car’s halo.
It reads ‘and I’ve got to stop because I’ve got a lump in my throat’, in reference to Walker’s immortal words as Damon Hill finally became world champion for Williams in 1996.
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The concept of three editions of a new Saturday ‘Sprint Qualifying’ format has gained support from teams but the plan is not quite yet signed off as discussions continue over cost implications amid the first year of the F1’s inaugural budget cap.
McLaren boss Zak Brown explained: “It definitely needs to be addressed, that sprint racing/sprint qualifying will cost more money and can cost significant more money if there’s accident damage. I think there are some different proposals on the table.
We just need to make sure that we address that specific issue and that it doesn’t create… we don’t put a rule in place that creates an opportunity that starts expanding the budget cap that we’ve all agreed to.”