Carlos Sainz continued Ferrari’s strong pre-season with another timesheet-topping display on the second day of official testing in Bahrain.
Throughout the five days of track action so far, the Scuderia have been consistently towards the top of the order and it was very much the case again on Friday as no other driver could get within four tenths of the Spaniard’s best time.
But ominously for Ferrari, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton also found their way into the top four of the day’s standings, although only the teams themselves will know what run plans and set-ups they had been executing.
Only nine cars ran during the afternoon as the Williams stayed in the garage following the fire that broke out in the FW44 when Nicholas Latifi had completed only 12 laps of the morning session.
The fire was described by the team as “quite minor, but became visibly quite dramatic”. Williams hope to be back out tomorrow when Latifi will want to make inroads on the desired mileage, with Alex Albon having got in 104 laps throughout Thursday’s two sessions.
Whereas Latifi did not manage his planned full day, four other drivers did and in Lando Norris’ case it was the second in a row – due to Daniel Ricciardo still being sidelined with the illness that had kept him in his hotel room.
However, just like day one when McLaren suffered brake problems with the MCL36, further disruption ensued. After team principal Andreas Seidl had revealed new brake components were being flown to Bahrain, Norris stopped at the end of the pit lane to cause one of two red-flag stoppages in short order within the last 90 minutes of running.
Norris played his part in joining the marshals to push the car back to the garage, with that hiatus occurring shortly after Esteban Ocon had stopped the pink-liveried Alpine in a run-off area as a precaution to also bring out the red flags.
Strong Lando! 💪 https://t.co/zTOpdLQzJY
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 11, 2022
The now familiar ‘porpoising’ issue was again in evidence, not for McLaren but notably with the Mercedes and the Haas, which had Kevin Magnussen at the wheel for the first time in Formula 1 since he left the American team at the end of 2020.
Haas were due to run for one hour extra at the end of the session to compensate them for having to miss Thursday morning due to their freight arriving late.
With evening temperatures cooling significantly, that allowed Magnussen, during his solo, to better Sainz’s time – giving Haas a rare P1 even if nobody else had the opportunity to go faster.
With only nine cars on the circuit, cars were not in close proximity too often but the opening afternoon’s ‘race’ for a few corners between Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll was repeated as Verstappen and Sainz briefly diced. A possible sign of things to come if Ferrari are as competitive as they appear to be when things become real next week.
Sainz had been over half a second clear at the top of the timesheet but entering the final 20 minutes, the World Champion edged a tad closer to his former Toro Rosso team-mate ahead of Stroll and Hamilton – a fairly insignificant achievement, but being ahead of his 2021 title foe is always likely to bring a smile to the Dutchman’s face.
All of the top three had set their best time on the same C4 tyres.
One more stoppage occurred in the final 15 minutes with the intention from Race Control being a rolling start. However, that plan appeared to fall flat – just like the morning’s scheduled standing start had – when the Aston Martin stopped at the end of the pit lane and had to be wheeled back.
No more changes to the order in those closing stages left Sainz in P1 and although that matters little at this stage, Ferrari can only be delighted with how the F1-75 is shaping up.
1 Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:33.532
2 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.479
3 Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +0.532
4 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.609
5 Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +0.744
6 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.834
7 Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.077
8 Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +2.488
9 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +2.973
10 Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +3.270
11 Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +3.455
12 Mick Schumacher (Haas) +4.314
13 George Russell (Mercedes) +5.053
14 Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +6.313
15 Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) +6.452