Formula One’s second day of three preseason tests is underway at the Bahrain International Circuit.
It is the only track time allocated to teams ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.
Mercedes’ difficult start to testing continued on the second morning in Bahrain when Lewis Hamilton spun while pushing on a quick lap in the new W12. He lost the rear of the car at Turn 13 and ended up in the gravel, where his car became beached. In order to retrieve the Mercedes from the gravel, the session was red flagged.
Something akin to normal service resumed in the afternoon as Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time for Mercedes in the final hour of the session. However, he was only 0.1s clear of Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri, with both drivers using the softest tyre compound. Fuel levels and engine modes remain unknown, making it hard to draw any conclusions from the headline times.
Nicholas Latifi and Carlos Sainz also spun earlier in the session after they lost control in separate incidents between Turns 7 and 8. High winds cross the circuit in that area and were likely to blame. Both drivers kept their car out of the barrier and kept running.
Red Bull appeared to attempt a race simulation in the afternoon, indicating the team is nicely advanced in its preseason schedule, while offering a glimpse of its potential performance at the opening race in Bahrain in two weeks. However, Sergio Perez parked the car during the final stint.
A second red flag was caused by Perez’s engine cover coming off on the pit straight as he moved out of the slipstream of Nicholas Latifi’s car and the change in air pressure lifted the bodywork off. Debris was left all over the straight, resulting in a stoppage in the session.
Sebastian Vettel was limited to just six laps after a gearbox problem on his Aston Martin. The new AMR21 uses a 2020-spec Mercedes gearbox, but it is unclear if the issue is in anyway related to the problem suffered by the works team on Friday. He managed to return to the track but was limited to just 10 laps by the end of the morning, with teammate Lance Stroll adding 70 laps in the afternoon.
Fernando Alonso completed his first day back as a full-time F1 driver after a two year absence from the sport. He had a productive day, with 140 laps including a mix of short and long runs.
Times (with one hour remaining)
1. Bottas – Mercedes – 1:30.289 – 56 laps (C5)
2. Gasly – AlphaTauri – 1:30.413 – 86 laps (C5)
3. Stroll – Aston Martin – 1:30.460 – 71 laps (C5)
4. Norris – McLaren – 1:30.586 – 52 laps (C4)
5. Giovinazzi – Alfa Romeo – 1:30.760 – 125 laps (C5)
6. Leclerc – Ferrari – 1:30.886 – 73 laps (C5)
7. Latifi – Williams – 1:31.672 – 132 laps (C4)
8. Perez – Red Bull – 1:31.682 – 117 laps (C2)
9. Ricciardo – McLaren – 1:32.215 – 52 laps (C3)
10. Alonso – Alpine – 1:32.339 – 128 laps (C2)
11. Tsunoda – AlphaTauri – 1:32.684 – 57 laps (C4)
12. Schumacher – Haas – 1:32.883 – 88 laps (C4)
13. Sainz – Ferrari – 1:33.072 – 56 laps (C3)
14. Mazepin – Haas – 1:33.101 – 76 laps (C4)
15. Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:33.399 – 58 laps (C2)
16. Vettel – Aston Martin – 1:38.849 – 10 laps (P)
(Tyre compound in brackets. P = Prototype, which is equivalent to C3)