Daniel Riccardo fastest as Mercedes suffer reliability issues in first F1 testing session

F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract

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Daniel Riccardo topped the timing screens in his new McLaren in the opening session of Formula One pre-season testing around the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Australian went quickest with a 1:32.203 – with the top three of Riccardo, Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri, and Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, split by just 0.042s.

It was Riccardo’s first session with the team, after switching from Renault to McLaren ahead of this season, but the times were disrupted by gusty conditions and dust on the track, meaning the times were much slower than a normal lap around the circuit.

Meanwhile Mercedes were reduced to just six laps of running in the morning session of day one, with a tricky start to their 2021 Formula One campaign, after the championship winning team suffered gearbox issues.

Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes suffer early setback in F1 pre-season

The team were unable to run for much of the morning, with Valtteri Bottas only completing an installation lap, before returning to the pits with an issue.

“We have a gearshift problem and are swapping the gearbox to get back out on track, then will diagnose the problem with the original box,” the Silver Arrows said.

It was a lengthy spell for the team, who lost around three hours of track time, with Bottas eventually getting back out with 35 minutes left on the clock, but only managing six laps before lunch.

Lewis Hamilton will take to the track for the afternoon/evening session, with the team looking to make up for lost time, with his first run in the W12.

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However teams are reporting a sandstorm is on the way, with more wind and dust expected which could disrupt running.

Mercedes were joined by Ferrari for reliability issues, when the scarlet Ferrari of Charles Leclerc stopped on the track, bringing out the only red flag of the session just before lunch.

Ferrari are looking to put a disastrous 2020 season behind them, their worst performance in 40 years, with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

And Haas weren’t without issues either, with Mick Schumacher only putting in 15 laps, as the rookie’s team suffered with gearbox issues too.

Despite rough conditions on track in the first session, Pierre Gasly managed over 70 laps in his new Alpha Tauri, impressing in his first run out.

Meanwhile both Carlos Sainz Jr and Sergio Perez confirmed they received their first COVID-19 vaccination through an offer from Bahrain GP organisers to vaccinate team members attending this year’s pre-season testing and the upcoming race.

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