As the cost of Formula One continues to be reined in, one of the consequences is a change in pre-season testing. Whereas previously 6 days of testing has been permitted to a team, for 2021 this total has been cut in half and split between the drivers. Max Verstappen’s thoughts on the reduced pre-season testing were shared on the official website of the pinnacle of motorsport – formula1.com. The Dutchman’s remarks show that he feels that a condensed three-day pre-season testing schedule in Bahrain is a welcome change.
Very little is known about the RB16B, Red Bull Racing’s challenger for the 2021 Formula One season. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez completed a filming day at Silverstone last week. Due to the fact only a maximum of 100 kilometres in the new car is permitted – both drivers surely have a long way to go before producing the car’s full potential. For Sergio Perez, being new to the Red Bull Racing team it is a fair assumption to believe it will take him a little bit longer to get up to speed. As such, a shorter pre-season testing will surely impact Perez more than Max Verstappen due to the carry over from last year’s car which the Dutchman is well accustomed to.
As published on formula1.com, Max Verstappen has shown that he is unfazed by the reduction in pre-season running time:
"I always look forward to race weekends, but first we have three days of testing…It's one-and-a-half days per teammate. It's not a lot, but I don't mind. I thought six days was a bit much and a bit boring.”
Having finished the 2020 F1 season as the race winner in Abu Dhabi, Max Verstappen is clearly ready to get back to competitive racing as soon as possible. First though, what are his hopes for the pre-season testing period commencing March 12th?
“Of course I love to drive a Formula 1 car, but there isn't really a competitive element during testing. I hope my day and a half goes smoothly. That's important,” Verstappen announced. “We want to clock as many miles as possible to get to used to the car. That's the way to prepare for the first Grand Prix weekend.
“We will have to wait until Bahrain where we can drive on racing rubber. That is where things really start. Then we can start to get the set-up right,” concluded Verstappen.
As happy as Max Verstappen appears to the changes in pre-season testing, his opinion is different with regard to the proposed sprint races – having previously told the media:
“It's not necessarily about more racing [on a weekend],” Verstappen said. “I quite like doing a one-and-a-half-hour race, because if we have good cars like we can race closely and more teams are able to fight for victory, you don't need sprint races.
“I think we don't need to really mix it up that much the whole programme. We just need to make sure that you fight for the win.”
Max Verstappen certainly has the talent to fight for the win and time will tell as to whether he has the car to do so in the RB16B.
Honda will have surely pulled out all the stops to produce the best power unit possible in their last season with F1. As such, there is every reason to believe that reigning champions Mercedes will not get everything their own way this year…but whether that stops them claiming yet another consecutive title is still a topic of much debate.
As a result of shortened pre-season testing, it is unlikely to expect a great deal to be learnt about the teams and their full performances. For that we will have to wait for a race weekend…and that wait is nearly over.