An off for Lewis Hamilton proved to be a minor blot on Mercedes’ copybook as they recovered some valuable mileage on day two of pre-season testing in Bahrain…and went fastest.
The Silver Arrows headed into day two of testing bottom of the lap charts following gearbox issues on the opening day which initially restricted Valtteri Bottas and the Mercedes team to just six laps in the first four hours of action on Friday morning.
But Saturday turned into a more productive day for the reigning World Champions as Hamilton added 58 laps to his 42 laps on Friday despite becoming beached in a gravel trap after a spin at Turn 13.
And after only emerging on the track an hour after the lunch break, Bottas was able to get properly stuck into his programme with 53 laps on the board and a P1 finish to boot with the new fastest time of testing so far – a 1:30.289 set on the softest C5 tyre.
The previous best time was held by Max Verstappen – a 1:30.674 on the medium C3s on Friday.
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There was still some slight cause for concern, though, at Mercedes as Sebastian Vettel managed just 10 laps in his Saturday morning run for Aston Martin, due to the Silver Arrows also experiencing gearbox issues. His team-mate, Lance Stroll (P3), was thankfully able to rack up the laps again, 71 in total, after a new gearbox was fitted.
Meanwhile, notable names such as Sergio Perez (P8) on his Red Bull debut run and the returning Fernando Alonso (P10) in the Alpine both notched up over 100 laps respectively as they blew the winter cobwebs away.
The former did experience one rather bizarre moment when the engine cover came off his RB16B in the afternoon after running behind the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
🚩 RED FLAG 🚩
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Conditions, certainly heading into the evening and after sunset, were much more favourable compared to the sandstorm which provided such a dramatic backdrop on Friday.
As a result, the overall pace quickened and the times came tumbling down in the latter stages of the day after race simulation programmes up and down the pit lane made way for some softer-tyre running.
Joining Bottas in the upper echelons of the timesheet were AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, 0.124 seconds behind, and Stroll, 0.171 seconds off the pace.
Lando Norris (P4) and Daniel Ricciardo (P9) both combined to add 100+ laps to McLaren’s total on another seamless day for the Woking team. Antonio Giovinazzi, who was almost hit by Nikita Mazepin on Saturday morning, Charles Leclerc and Nicholas Latifi also featured in the top 10.
Day two timesheet
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:30.289, 58 laps, C5 tyres
2. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +0.124, 87 laps, C5 tyres
3. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +0.171, 71 laps, C5 tyres
4. Lando Norris, McLaren, +0.297, 52 laps, C4 tyres
5. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, +0.471, 125 laps, C5 tyres
6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +0.597, 73 laps, C5 tyres
7. Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +1.383, 132 laps, C4 tyres
8. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +1.393, 117 laps, C2 tyres
9. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +1.926, 52 laps, C3 tyres
10. Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +2.050, 128 laps, C2 tyres
11. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, +2.395, 57 laps, C4 tyres
12. Mick Schumacher, Haas, +2.594, 88 laps, C4 tyres
13. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +2.783, 56 laps, C3 tyres
14. Nikita Mazepin, Haas, +2.812, 76 laps, C4 tyres
15. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +3.110, 58 laps, C2 tyres
16. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +8.560, 10 laps, Test tyres