Alpine F1 Team began its on-track preparations for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship today with Esteban Ocon at the wheel of the A521 at the Bahrain International Circuit.

On a sandstorm-hit day in Bahrain, Esteban recorded 129 laps, the second-most of any driver on the first day of the official pre-season test.

Esteban began his day at the wheel with aero correlation work, with a front tyre rake fitted to the car for the opening runs. With the initial laps running smoothly, Esteban pushed on and ran to his programme as planned with 55 laps completed before the lunch break.

Conditions deteriorated over the one-hour interlude, with a sandstorm hitting the area, resulting in wind gusts and, subsequently, sand covering the 5.412km circuit.

Despite the unique weather, Esteban was immediately out of the garage for the afternoon running, continuing to increase his lap count to over a century midway through the session. On the C4 tyres, he improved his lap-time to a 1min 31.146secs, rounding off his day with 129 laps completed.

Tomorrow, Fernando Alonso will drive the A521 for the first time.

Esteban Ocon, #31, P3, 1:31.146, 129 laps:
“Everything went well today, and it was definitely a good first day back at school! It was a solid one for the team, we completed the programme with ease and we even had time at the end of the day to do pit-stop practice with the team, which was quite nice as it meant we could get ourselves back into race situations. We put in some decent laps today and we learned everything we set out to achieve and that’s exactly what you need during test days. We faced all kinds of conditions as well: heat this morning then strong gusts and a sandstorm this afternoon, so pretty much everything except rain. That was interesting but we did what we needed to, and I look forward to driving the car again later this weekend.”