This weekend, 2021 Formula 1 cars hit the track for the first time for an official timed session during the curtailed three-day test in Bahrain. It is hard to really see what is going on, especially when looking just at the lap times. What is more important, especially this year, is track time and particularly the Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin teams were well down on the lap chart.
Both racking up an impressive amount of laps and setting the absolute fastest time of the weekend was the Red Bull RB16B Honda. It is clear that the Austrian-owned team both managed to get to grasps with the revised aerodynamic regulations and that engine partner Honda pulled out all the stops for what will be the Japanese manufacturer's final year in the sport. It was Max Verstappen who clocked the fastest time of the weekend in the RB16B, and he may very well finally be able to break the Mercedes-Benz stranglehold on Formula 1.
Perhaps quite surprisingly, the one Mercedes-Benz team that looked the most consistent was McLaren with their MCL35M. This is most definitely unexpected as it is the team's first outing with the Mercedes-Benz engine after having used Renault power during the last three seasons. There is also some controversy surrounding the MCL35M as it features a trick diffuser that may very well be a very creative workaround of the revised aero regulations.
Another car that grabbed our attention was the Alpine A521. This was not just for its striking French blue livery but also for the revised cooling architecture. Compared to the outgoing Renault, Alpine's first F1 racer is based on, it features slimmer side-pods in search of an even cleaner airflow. This was achieved by moving some of the cooling elements to the area on top and behind of the engine. The bulkier air-box used to clear the radiators on the A521 does have some similarities to the mighty air-box fitted on the Ligier JS5 of the 1970s.

Enjoy the links:

2021 Alpine A521 Renault

2021 Ferrari SF21

2021 McLaren MCL35M Mercedes

2021 Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda