F1 2023 testing: See how Day 2 unfolded in Bahrain

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McLaren driver Oscar Piastri locks up. Bahrain February 2023

Oscar Piastri locks up the McLaren MCL60. Bahrain February 2023

Back in Bahrain for Day 2 of pre-season testing, Max Verstappen was in control once again but a surprise beat him to P1, while Mercedes struggled.

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Main headlines: Zhou Guanyu tops the timesheet after a hydraulics issue on George Russell’s Mercedes caused a red flag; the only reliability issue throughout Day 2. Carlos Sainz set pace in the morning before Max Verstappen went faster in the afternoon. A late blast on Pirelli’s softest C5 tyre by Zhou grabbed P1, though.

Day Two timesheet:
1 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo 1:31.610 133 laps
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull +0.040 47
3 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.595 130
4 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +0.612 74
5 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +0.856 68
6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.876 70
7 Logan SARGEANT Williams +0.939 154
8 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +1.115 68
9 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.565 74
10 Pierre GASLY Alpine +1.576 59
11 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.832 67
12 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.880 49
13 George RUSSELL Mercedes +2.004 26
14 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +2.141 76
15 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +2.344 72
16 Lando NORRIS McLaren +3.912 65
17 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +4.098 85

Live updates (local time):

Session times (local time): 1000-1415, 1515-1930

19:30: That’s that! Zhou Guanyu ends the day atop the timesheet ahead of Max Verstappen. A great day for Williams with Logan Sargeant in P7 after 154 laps. Meanwhile, struggles for Mercedes as George Russell completed just 26 laps before a hydraulics issue ended his day. See you again tomorrow for the third and final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain.

19:28: Nyck de Vries and Nico Hulkenberg on the front row… I challenge you to find anyone against that happening for a proper Grand Prix this season.

19:25: This time, all the drivers are on the same page; pulling away one-by-one for a faux formation lap. This time around the lights will come on and count-down… though unfortunately we won’t be racing into Turn 1.

19:23: We’re about to have another Grand Prix-style start procedure test. After it got a bit messy earlier today with Sainz almost rear-ending Norris, hopefully this one will be smoother…

19:20: Looks like Zhou’s issue happened when he was preparing for a practice start. Some unpleasant noises coming from the Alfa Romeo as he tried to get into gear. He’s now been pushed back to the Swiss team’s garage.

19:18: Lots going on in the pit-lane as things calm down on track. Zhou Guanyu has stopped at the end of the pit-lane and Alfa Romeo mechanics are rushing down to push him back, while Williams seem to have an issue with Sargeant’s car…

19:16: Out come the yellow flags, as the FIA complete their tests. VSC conditions enforced.

19:12: Fernando Alonso heads back out with time ticking down..

19:10: Five minutes to go before Race Control begins its own testing procedures during the final 15 minutes of the session. Starting to look like Zhou’s time could stand until the flag.

19:00: Zhou Guanyu tops the timesheet with a 1:31.610, edging Verstappen by four hundredths. He does so on the C5 tyre, the softest available, which won’t be available to the teams at the Grand Prix next weekend. Meanwhile, Verstappen is lapping on the mediums.

18:55: Down at Ferrari, a 2.5 second pit-stop test has seen Charles Leclerc go onto the hard tyre – which will be an important tyre at the Grand Prix next week in similar conditions to these. One to keep an eye on…

18:49: Zhou is the next to make use of those red-striped soft tyres by moving up to P3. The Alfa Romeo driver, Alonso and De Vries are split by just two hundredths.

18:45: This battle for P2 is hotting up, continuing to eat into Verstappen’s buffer. Alonso retakes P2 with a 1.32.205, edging De Vries on medium compound tyres.

18:40: Only Russell, who caused the red flag, has completed fewer than Verstappen’s 30 laps. The Dutchman notched 157 circuits yesterday after driving both the morning and afternoon sessions – though his is his final opportunity to test before next weekend, with Perez being Red Bull’s Day 3 focus.

18:38: De Vries improves again, going inside six tenths of Verstappen’s 1:31.650 benchmark. With 50 minutes left on the clock, we should see someone stick some red-striped tyres on and topple the World Champion’s time. Verstappen’s car is still in the garage being ferociously worked on.

18:35: Russell’s Mercedes is almost certainly going to remain in the garage as we dig into the final hour of Day 2, with the team confirming that a hydraulics issues at Turn 4 caused the No.63 car to stop.

18:28: Nevermind, because De Vries has just improved to snatch P2 from Alonso. His 1:32.4 comes with an asterisk – the AlphaTauri on soft tyres while the cars around him on the timesheet opted for harder compounds.

18:23: In P1 and P2 at least, Day 2 is now matching Day 1. It’s another very encouraging day for Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin, putting in a 1:32.4 that edges Hulkenberg and Sainz by the slimmest of margins. That was his 117th lap of the day.

18:17: We’re back underway and immediately get an improver, with AlphaTauri’s new recruit Nyck De Vries soaring up to P7 from 12th with a 1:33.145. The Dutchman is quietly having a solid session this afternoon.

18:14: As Russell’s Mercedes disappears off track and heads back towards the garage, the red flags are about to be pulled in and testing can resume. There are now just 75 minutes remaining on Day 2.

18:09: A scary moment there as the car tips backwards suddenly in mid-air, but it’s saved just in time. Meanwhile, the engineers are making lots of paranoid adjustments to the tarpaulin covering the Mercedes. They can feel Red Bull and Ferrari eyes on their backs.

18:06: As Russell marches back to the paddock to deliver some feedback, the car is now being recovered. No rush for the engineers and marshals on hand – they are about to lift several millions of pounds worth of metal into the air…

18:03: The mechanics have arrived to cover their car in a black tarpaulin, with Russell mucking-in to help. Mercedes don’t want any rival spies checking out the W14 while it’s being loaded onto the recovery truck.

18:00: A crew of Mercedes engineers have just jumped into a white Lexus on their way to the stricken No.63 car. Glum faces down at the Silver Arrows’ garage.

17:58: Russell has taken his helmet off and is standing stroking his chin beside the track. Much to ponder for the Mercedes man, as he watches the marshal load his W14 onto a recovery vehicle. It’s unlikely that we’ll see Mercedes back on track today.

17:53: Red flag! And it’s bad news for Mercedes, as George Russell pulls over after suddenly losing power. It’s our first stoppage of the day, with just over 90 minutes remaining.

17:48: Not much mention of our French friends Alpine this afternoon. Much of their time has been spent in the garage, with Ocon and Gasly only jotting 78 laps between them so far. Gasly has just emerged to set a new best time, staying P9.

17:40: George Russell finally heads back onto the track after Mercedes kept his W14 in the garage for an extended break, doing a practice start on the pit exit with medium tyres on his machine.

17:30: Verstappen is still comfortable atop the timesheets but he’s only completed 18 laps this afternoon. The Red Bull garage are keeping out prying eyes with screens across their doors, meaning some heavy-duty engineering work is underway on the No.1 car.

17:25:  Another big improvement for Piastri, who goes into P8 with a 1:33.175. Meanwhile, Alonso and Zhou have followed Sargeant over the 100-lap mark.

17:20: Not much movement on the timesheets of late, with several cars on long runs. Sergio Perez has been snooping around down at Mercedes though, bumping into George Russell who intercepted him for chat in view of TV cameras.

17:09: Sargeant hits a century! The Williams driver clocks his 100th lap of today’s test and with more than two hours remaining in Bahrain, the Grove team can count that as a fantastic achievement. Promising pace and rock-solid reliability, what more can you ask for?

17:02: Great stuff from Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas, as the German flies up to P2 ahead of Sainz with a 1:32.466 on softs. He’s still eight tenths off Verstappen but that’s promising for Haas. Let’s see how the other midfield runners compare of fast laps…

16:58: With the sun sinking fast, Piastri has made a welcome improvement to his best time. The McLaren driver only climbs to P14 but reduces his gap to 2.3 seconds behind the pace-setting Red Bull. With track temperature decreasing, we could start to see some more flying laps.

16:55: We’ve not mentioned Alonso much through this afternoon but the Aston Martin driver is plugging away, racking up the laps on a long stint. His push lap from earlier in the day survives in P5.

16:48: A word for Sargeant. The American has just notched his 90th lap of this test, having already taken part in the morning’s session. He is surviving in P3 behind Red Bull and Ferrari and having a wonderfully smooth session. Great omens down at the Williams garage.

16:42: Verstappen does a purple first sector and looks set for another improvement before a messy end to the lap. The Red Bull driver has been enjoying the absence of track limits in testing but it didn’t work out for him that time.

16:34: Leclerc has vaulted up the standings on a low-fuel run, climbing to P4 just over a second behind Verstappen. Russell has also moved up, going ahead of Hamilton by three tenths in P10.

16:32: Piastri produces another smoking lock-up replay, as McLaren continue to give worrying signs in pre-season. Piastri and Norris are currently sitting P15 and P16 on the standings, with the British driver ahead by a tenth.

16:22: Russell launches up to P10 with his first serious lap, setting a 1.34.146 two tenths outside of Hamilton’s fastest effort this morning.

16:15: Just caught sight of Hamilton leaning over the pit-wall keeping an eye on the action. A tricky session for the Brit this morning with lots of traction issues. Will Russell face similar issues? He’s on an out-lap now…

16:11: And sector 2… and sector 3. The Red Bull star improves his best time by a couple of tenths, sitting at 1.31.650 to go further clear of Sainz.

16:10: Here we go again with Verstappen, going purple through sector 1…

16:00: Russell update – the Mercedes man has yet to set a serious time and remains at the base of the leaderboard after six laps. Meanwhile, Sargeant is on a long run but isn’t looking particularly quick.

15:55: De Vries has improved into P12, going seven tenths faster than Alpine signing Pierre Gasly who has managed a session-best of 1.35.924 to now.

15:50: Leclerc is in the midsts of a long run, showing similar signs of Hamilton’s issues earlier today and losing traction. The Ferrari driver has now pulled back into the pits.

15:45: And there it goes, Sainz’s time has already fallen to the World Champion. Verstappen goes for a flyer on the C3 tyres and looks ominously dialled, clocking 1:31.863 to go six tenths clear of the Ferrari No.55.

15:40: Russell is the only man yet to set a time so far. Hulkenberg has got on the board with a 1.35.196, enough for P11.

15:32: Piastri’s McLaren has been splattered with green flow-vis paint around the right side of its halo. The Australian rookie made his debut yesterday in the morning, and today he continues getting to grips with his machine.

15:25: Wasting absolutely no time is Verstappen. After two slow laps, the World Champion has got up to speed immediately: clocking a 1:32.519, just a fraction behind Sainz in P2.

15:20: Zhou is the first man out on track, back on track after doing yesterday’s morning session. Verstappen follows him, having topped the timesheet yesterday.

15:17: Alonso will complete a full day of testing, as will Sargeant and Zhou. Otherwise, it’s all change. Leclerc, Russell, Piastri, Hulkenberg and De Vries all set to hit the track.

15:15: We’re back in action in Bahrain for the afternoon session on Day 2 of testing. The World Champion is back in action, as the teams switch up their lineups from the morning session.

14:15: That’s a wrap! All 10 drivers head back to the pits as the morning session on Day 2 rolls to a halt in Bahrain. At the session’s end Sainz tops the timesheet with a 1:32.486, just 0.063s ahead of William rookie Logan Sargeant. Although Yuki Tsunoda finishes P10, the Japanese drive amassed more track time than anyone, on 85 laps.

14:14: A bit of chaos here… the lights go out and Magnussen charges away, while Norris and Sargeant go nowhere. Sainz almost rear-ends his former McLaren team-mate, and Hamilton had to take evasive action too. Seemingly a breakdown in communication between Race Control and the drivers.

14:13: The drivers line-up on the grid for a practice start, Grand Prix style, with Kevin Magnussen on pole – just as he was for the 2022 Brazilian GP sprint.

14:10: All but three cars on track now as he go into the final five minutes of this morning session.

14:01: Virtual safety car conditions here in Sakhir. Not for an incident though, just some pre-season system checks.

13:57:So close to P1 for Sargeant! Another push lap sees Williams’ new man put in the fastest time through sector 2, driving to the line coming in just 0.063s before Sainz.

13:51: Another big snap for Hamilton out of the final corner, losing the rear once again. The No.44 is testing the limits out there.

13:48: Toto Wolff admits on Sky Sports that the Mercedes is “out of balance this morning”. Adds on Red Bull and Ferrari: “They’re fast.”

13:44: New best time for Sargeant. Up to P2 for the Williams rookie on soft tyres, closing right up to 0.180s behind Sainz. The Ferrari pace-setter is on a race run as we speak.

13:35: Just inside 40 minutes to do of this first session on Day 2. With lots of well-worn tyres in use, blustery conditions and track temperature rising, it’s difficult conditions out there.

13:25: Perez returns to the paddock, his race simulation run ending at 76 laps. Nobody has got more laps in than the Mexican and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsundoda.

13:17: Hamilton is back out on used tyres, improving in sectors 1 and 2 to set his best lap of the day. He stays P8, now 1.468s down on the leading Ferrari.

13:13: Up to P4 for Sargeant, whose Williams team were quickly able to patch-up the front-left problem. A 1.33.368 for the American, 0.882s back on Sainz.

13:10: Sainz is on track again, as is Alonso, who is completing laps with a high fuel load.

13:02: Hamilton goes back to the garage. The No.44 Mercedes has run wide on several occasions during this run, which ends with 49 laps on the board. Time for a re-think.

12:55: Only three cars on track right now, Hamilton, Perez and Magnussen. Sainz in the garage having his bodywork altered, while Sargeant’s run has been cut short with Williams looking at a potential brake issue on the front-left.

12:47: Hamilton goes for a flying lap but it’s not very quick. The British driver fails to improve, staying down in eighth after a 1:34.094.

12:45: Alonso has come back out on track and quickly improved to take P2 from Zhou with a 132.969. We’ve also seen a huge lock-up for Sargeant into Turn 10, deep into a run on some C2 tyres.

12:30: Sainz still topping the time-sheet as Alonso dips back into the garage, the Aston Martin driver with 29 laps on the board so far.

12:15: Hamilton emerges back onto the Sakhir track, getting stuck into some medium tyres. The seven-time champion immediately locks up and goes wide – a familiar sight from yesterday.

1202: Alonso is back out on the circuit making up for lost time, he improved marginally but cannot take P2 back from Zhou, 0.012s splitting that pair.

1200: Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri AT04 is the latest to shed bodywork on the bumpy entry into Turn 1. For Sainz meanwhile it is smooth sailing up in P1 as this morning session turns two-hours old.

1155: Ocon muscles his way into the top four, a second adrift of Sainz’s benchmark. 25 laps completed so far for the Frenchman at the wheel of the Alpine A523.

1150: The W14 was a real handful there for Hamilton down the hill into Turn 10, he needs every inch of the run-off to rescue that.

1147: The productive day continues for Zhou, he is now up to P2, seven-tenths down on Sainz and a tenth ahead of Alonso, who is still in the garage with work continuing on that Aston Martin.

1139: A rare sight so far in this test of a car going off the track, Norris has a snap of oversteer through Turn 12 and has to take to the run-off.

1135: Norris finds a tad of extra pace but still is staring at a three-second gap to Sainz at the front.

1128: Sainz shaves another 0.167s off his own personal best on the C3, a 1:32.486 is now the time to beat.

1126: After losing some bodywork off the W14, Hamilton is back in the garage as Mercedes assess the damage, while there is also some attention being paid to the cooling louvers.

1122: Zhou Guanyu is piecing together a strong, no-nonsense morning in the Alfa Romeo, sitting P5 and approaching the 20-lap mark. Alonso meanwhile is chilling in the Aston Martin while his mechanics work on the front of that AMR23.

1110: Alonso is on the prowl once more, P2 he goes with six-tenths to find on Sainz. Sargeant has also decided now is the time to post a time, and it takes him P6 ahead of Norris.

1102: We are glad he got that moment, because Sainz, armed with the C3, has just gone purple in every sector with a 1:32.653, taking him a second clear at the front.

1100: Never mind 45 minutes, Magnussen has made it to the first hour mark of this morning session in P1.

1051: Purple in Sector 1 and Sector 2, Perez can’t quite turn that into the fastest time so far, clocking a 1:33.751 that takes him to within 0.041s of Magnussen.

1047: Norris is not returning to the track just yet, there is plenty of work going on in the McLaren garage around the engine cover of the MCL60. The Mercedes W14 is up on the jacks as well getting some attention.

1044: Perez jumps up to P2 now that he is back out on the track, driving an RB19 which is sporting plenty of flow-vis paint down the left side. He has a little over a second to find on Magnussen, but a very wide moment at Turn 10 probably cost him that amount of time and then some.

1037: Hamilton has upped his pace a little to a 1:37.070, that had taken him P3 ahead of Sainz, but the Spaniard responds with a 1:35.547. He goes P2, Hamilton back to P4.

1030: Alonso is winding up the AMR23 for a push run on the C2 tyre, that first attempt taking him P2, a couple of seconds shy of Magnussen. Fewer interruptions, more strong pace will be on his Friday wishlist. Speaking of interruptions, Perez is back in the garage as Red Bull work on the underfloor of that RB19.

1022: Magnussen takes us into the 1:33s, clocking a 1:33.710 at the wheel of that Haas VF-23. Purple in all three sectors with what looked to be the C2 tyres bolted on.

1010: A 1:37.248 sets the early pace courtesy of Sainz, but that benchmark will come down massively. Lewis Hamilton has the aero rakes on the back of his Mercedes W14 as he puts a run together.

1006: Ferrari and Red Bull waste no time getting out there. Carlos Sainz is handling the morning running again for Ferrari, while Perez has also wasted precious little time getting his day in the RB19 underway.

1000: Green light, let’s go! 0950: Thursday’s fastest time was a 1:32.837 set by Verstappen with Alonso second quickest, 0.029s down. Will anyone pip the Red Bull driver’s P1 time today? Conditions are once again perfect with another warm day on the cards and minimal wind.

0941: You’ll also noticed that Fernando Alonso will be the only driver in action for Aston Martin. While the team ran Felipe Drugovich on Thursday morning, the reserve driver replacing the injured Lance Stroll, they’ve opted to only use Alonso for today’s running. They’ve yet to reveal Saturday’s line-up, a decision that will have many speculating on whether or not that means Stroll will be fit for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, or not.

0936: Day Two of testing sees Sergio Perez make his first appearance with the Mexican driver set to share the driving duties with his team-mate Max Verstappen. The Dutchman had the car all to himself on the opening day and set the fastest time while Perez watched on.

The full line-up: RED BULL: Perez / Verstappen
FERRARI: Sainz / Leclerc
MERCEDES: Hamilton / Russell
ALPINE: Ocon / Gasly
MCLAREN: Norris / Piastri
ASTON MARTIN: Alonso
ALFA ROMEO: Zhou
HAAS: Magnussen / Hulkenberg
ALPHATAURI: Tsunoda / De Vries
WILLIAMS: Sargeant

0930: Good morning and welcome back to the Bahrain International Circuit for the second day of pre-season testing. We’ll be getting underway in 30 minutes’ time for the first four-hour session of the day until 1415 local time. An hour lunch break follows before the second session runs from 1515 to 1930. Get yourselves comfortable…