Red Bull up the ante with new fastest time | F1 News by Planet F1
Sergio Perez overcame a leak at the front of the RB16B to finish on top of a timesheet for the first time as a Red Bull driver.
The penultimate session of pre-season testing in Bahrain was another positive one for the teams hoping to challenge Mercedes in the 2021 World Championship – and there was also some much-welcome good news for Ferrari.
That came in the form of a P2 for Charles Leclerc but while the Monegasque driver was fastest early in the session, it was Perez who ultimately went three tenths quicker.
The Mexican has joined Red Bull this year as replacement for Alex Albon and will be encouraged that he emulated what his new team-mate Max Verstappen had achieved during Friday afternoon’s second session by ending up P1, clocking a 1:30.187 on C4 tyres.
That was despite the leak mid-session which cost Perez some valuable running time, and indeed his lap count was the lowest among the 10 drivers out on track.
But with his work done before handing back over to Verstappen for the final stint, the 31-year-old will be pleased with his total mileage over the three days and his preparations for his Red Bull race debut back at the same venue two weeks from now.
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Who’s excited to see @SChecoPerez back here racing in two weeks time? ??? pic.twitter.com/Lb2aGXLFuG
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 14, 2021
The next fewest circuits was completed by Lando Norris in the McLaren, but again there was enough promise in what the Englishman showed to suggest his team have made a step forward with their new Mercedes engine.
In comparison with the previous two days, this was an uneventful first F1 session following news of Murray Walker’s passing and it began with a minute’s silence for the legendary motorsport commentator.
Once it got under way, it appeared the teams had largely resolved the gremlins that had affected them previously.
That includes, most notably, Mercedes and Aston Martin, for whom there was no sign of the gearshift issues they had both encountered and which considerably reduced the running time for Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.
On Saturday evening local time as the temperature cooled, Bottas had turned in several late ‘push’ laps on the soft tyres to force his way to the top of the standings as he strove to catch up on what he had missed out on the previous day.
But that proved not to be the case the next morning as the Finn’s best time, on hard tyres, was more than two seconds outside of Perez’s best and his own from the previous day.
Nevertheless, there were reports from Ted Kravitz on Sky F1 that Mercedes had made strides in addressing the issue at the rear of the car, which Bottas had described as “unforgiving” and needing “calming down”.
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