Despite another shaky day for the Mercedes team, the Silver Arrows concluded day two of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain with the fastest lap time.
Valtteri Bottas posted a 1.30.289s with 27 minutes remaining in the afternoon session on the softest C5 tyre compound. The Finn would end up 0.124s ahead of Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri and a further one-tenth quicker than Lance Stroll.
Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton would bring out an early red flag in the morning session after burying himself in the gravel trap. The defending world champion would eventually complete 58 laps but finished 15th on the timing screens.
McLaren continued to impress with another strong day. Both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo shared time in the car, with Norris ending up fourth fastest and Ricciardo in ninth.
Pacesetters in day one, Red Bull would rack up a healthy number of laps with Sergio Perez in the car for the entire day. The Mexican would set the eighth-quickest time and 112 laps despite having a bizarre engine cover dismantlement along the main straight.
“Given that we lost some track time earlier in the morning I think overall it has been a good day,” Perez said. “Conditions are very tricky out there, very different to yesterday, so yeah plenty of work and developing to do there on.”
“This is my final [full] day. Tomorrow I have the morning. It’s not ideal missing any track time, but I think we’ve done alright, and hopefully, tomorrow we can do even more.
“I’m getting used to [the balance], obviously I can see the potential in the car, and just looking forward to it.”
Fernando Alonso officially made his F1 return for Alpine after a two-year break. He turned the most laps of total running with 128 and ended the day tenth fastest.
Having sung praises of a productive day yesterday, Sebastian Vettel had very contrasting thoughts today. The four-time world champion was confined to the garage for almost the entire morning session after a gearbox fault was found in his Aston Martin.
“The two days were markedly different for us,” Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer said
“We had a decent first day, trying to learn a little bit about the car, no set-up work but getting Seb acclimated to the team and the car in the morning and then Lance running through some aero work in the afternoon.
“It will have an impact on Seb because he’ll have less time in the car before the first race.
“What he needs now is his seat time in our car, because we are a different team it’s a different car, a different powertrain than he’s been used to.
“But we’ll do the best we can with the time that we have remaining.”
Tomorrow will mark the final day of pre-season testing ahead of the season’s opening grand prix on March 28.