The top speeds on the Bahrain International Circuit are achieved towards the end of the start and finish line, and although testing is not always the most accurate indicator of the form and speed of an individual team, they still give the first insight into where each team stands.
Last year, Ferrari struggled with straight line speed, both due to the lack of power of its power unit and the car that provided too much air resistance in an effort to create as much downforce as possible.
Ferrari F1 team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that Ferrari’s speed on the straights is no longer a weakness, and top speed data of Ferrari and their clients Alfa Romeo and Haas support the theory that Ferrari managed to find plenty of power from the new 065/6 powertrain.
Top speed is affected by many factors that are not easy to identify in tests such as fuel quantity, engine mode, downforce levels and moment of DRS opening as its use in tests is not limited to DRS zones.
Yuki Tsunoda surprised on the last day of testing with the second fastest time for AlphaTauri Honda, but later it turned out that in the fastest lap he opened the DRS on his AT02 much earlier thus gaining a few kilometers per hour of speed on the main straight.
BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
In its fastest lap on the last day, Tsunoda achieved the highest top speed in the pre-season tests (322.7 km/h), but they almost certainly had less fuel than their sister team Red Bull with the already mentioned earlier use of DRS, which will not be allowed in the first race of the season.
Ferrari’s progress is also impressive, as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas are in second, third and fifth place, and three cars with Ferrari’s engine have their top speed within 2.2 km/h.
The Red Bull is 6.7 km/h slower than the AlphaTauri with the same engine, probably due to more downforce, more fuel and later DRS activation, and Williams is the fastest car with a Mercedes engine as expected as they certainly have less downforce than the Aston Martin and Mercedes.
Alpine is the only team to use Renault’s E-Tech 20B power units, and the slower than them were only McLaren, Aston Martin and Mercedes using Mercedes F1 M12 E Performance power units.
2021 BAHRAIN F1 TEST TOP SPEEDS
|Car||Power unit||Top speed||Day|
|1||Alpha Tauri AT02||Honda RA621H||322.7 km/h||3|
|2||Ferrari SF21||Ferrari 065/6||319.7 km/h||3|
|3||Alfa Romeo C41||Ferrari 065/6||319.6 km/h||3|
|4||Williams FW43B||Mercedes F1 M12 E Performance||318.6 km/h||2|
|5||Haas VF-21||Ferrari 065/6||317.5 km/h||3|
|6||Red Bull RB16B||Honda RA621H||316.0 km/h||2|
|7||Alpine A521||Renault E-Tech 20B||315.7 km/h||3|
|8||McLaren MCL35M||Mercedes F1 M12 E Performance||315.4 km/h||3|
|9||Aston Martin AMR21||Mercedes F1 M12 E Performance||311.2 km/h||2|
|10||Mercedes F1 W12||Mercedes F1 M12 E Performance||310.2 km/h||3|
Data: Auto Motor und Sport