The opening round of the planned 23-race 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at Bahrain International Circuit as teams prepared for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Two 60-minute sessions - FP1 and FP2 - on the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn circuit made up Friday's agenda - 2021 regulations shortening each session by 30 minutes over previous seasons. FP1 was hosted under a blazing afternoon sun, with air temperature at 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and track temperature hitting 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 degrees Fahrenheit). FP2's track action, held in cooler conditions in the evening, proved a more representative session for the grid with the second practice session set under the floodlights at the same time, 6 p.m. local time, as qualifying and the race.
Mazepin and Schumacher both ran a total of 16 laps to kick start the weekend in FP1. Running an identical tire strategy, they commenced with an install lap on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium compound followed by some baseline running on the rubber. They swapped onto the Red soft tire later in the session - both setting their fastest laps in the process. Schumacher logged a 1:34.501 for 19th with Mazepin clocking a 1:34.975 lap for 20th overall.
FP2 saw Mazepin and Schumacher sample the hardest compound available this weekend, the Pirelli P Zero White tire, before heading out onto qualifying simulations armed with fresh new sets of the soft rubber. A 1:33.297 placed Schumacher 18th on the timesheet with Mazepin 20th on a 1:33.449. Both drivers ended the session on high-fuel runs - Mazepin running on used softs while Schumacher utilized his earlier hard set.
Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 75 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 - 35 by Mazepin and 40 by Schumacher.
Nikita Mazepin: "It was very special for me to take part in my first FP1 and FP2 sessions. That alone was very positive. On the technical side the day was quite challenging. There's been a lot of wind around, and it wasn't very consistent. These cars, compared to Formula 2, are much more effective with the wind in a positive way and also in a negative way. The car was quite difficult at times. Being realistic, we were very fortunate with the conditions achieved on the final day of testing, they were very fast. The track today was much slower and that made driving today much more challenging - for us at least. With 23 rounds you're going to experience very different things. It's about getting the most experience banked and that's definitely happened today."
Mick Schumacher: "FP1 was in really hot conditions, which was something I hadn't really experienced yet. It was cooking the tires up, and obviously the cockpit as well. But it was good for learning - understanding how the car behaves in those conditions. Moving into FP2, we knew the conditions would be completely different. Unfortunately, the wind also changed, it was something that everybody had to get used to and some people were struggling with it - so were we. Once we got the info on how to approach the corners everything then seemed a bit better. The long run was also interesting for us, and it was more mileage for me really. I felt comfortable in the car, which is a good sign and shows that we did enough work to prepare myself to get in and be comfortable. I know there's a lot to improve from my side still, as a driver I know I have the tools to improve the lap time. I'll be working hard on myself to keep improving and keep learning."
Guenther Steiner: "Even if the results don't show it - not a bad day for us. I was pretty happy with FP1. We got all our laps in and there were no mistakes made, it was solid throughout. The feedback from the drivers was good and the car had a decent balance. In FP2 we were then struggling to find the balance with both of the guys, but that's part of the learning curve."
Check out our Friday gallery from Bahrain, here.