F1 Testing 2024: The six biggest headlines from Day 2 in Bahrain

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15 inside the garage.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15.

Day 2 of pre-season testing in Bahrain is in the books, as Ferrari struck back at Max Verstappen’s opening-day heroics.

Verstappen may have had some, including rival teams, fearing the worst after his mighty display on the first day of testing, but Carlos Sainz and Ferrari were able to give Verstappen serious food for thought on Day 2, clocking a new benchmark of a 1:29.921, a second-and-a-half faster than Verstappen’s effort, albeit with softer C4 tyres.

Still, it was not a completely smooth day for Ferrari, nor was it for Red Bull as Sergio Perez suffered a disrupted day in the RB20, so it is time to bring you up to speed with the key talking points after Day 2 of Bahrain testing.

Carlos Sainz comfortably sees off Sergio Perez on Day 2

Red Bull were represented by Verstappen’s team-mate Perez on the second day in Bahrain, but as the times tumbled, he was not able to secure their spot at the head of the timings.

Instead, Sainz’s 1:29.921 on the C4 tyres proved far too hot to handle, as Perez was forced to settle for P2, over seven-tenths off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a productive day at the wheel of the snappy, but clearly improved by his own admission W15, to round out the top three on Day 2 at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Read more – F1 Testing 2024: Ferrari strike back at Red Bull as Carlos Sainz sets new benchmark

Brake fire only start of gremlins for Sergio Perez

While Perez was able to post north of 120 laps on Thursday, it was far from a smooth day for the Mexican racer.

He would encounter a front-left brake fire during the morning session, while the afternoon session saw him lose time after being forced to trundle out of the penultimate turn and back to the pits in his ailing RB20 as the gremlins returned.

Read more – Problems for Red Bull as Sergio Perez’s RB20 gets a ‘bit too hot’ in Bahrain

Charles Leclerc sees Red Bull out front after dramatic day

Ferrari also had issues on Day 2, though not due to their own reliability wobbles. Instead, the curse of the loose drain returned!

The morning session ended more than an hour early after the SF-24 sucked up a drain cover as Leclerc went wide at Turn 11, forcing a mass inspection around the track.

While Leclerc confirmed this left a “hole in the floor”, Sainz was able to flip the day into a major positive for Ferrari with his second-session performance. That being said, Leclerc believes that “Red Bull unfortunately remains quite a bit ahead”.

Read more – Charles Leclerc reveals Ferrari damage extent as major Red Bull prediction made

McLaren team boss warns biggest step from Red Bull

Leclerc was not alone in doubting that Ferrari’s Thursday form sets them up to be the fastest team. McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is still pointing to Red Bull as well.

Stella believes that all teams, McLaren included, have made gains as expected heading into the new season, but the team to gain the most is none other than the dominant force of F1’s ground effect era so far, Red Bull.

“There’s one car that seems to have found a big step. Unfortunately, [it is] the car that was already the quickest last year,” Stella told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher, in reference to Red Bull.

Read more – McLaren boss warns of ominous ‘big step’ from title favourites Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton feels ‘clear improvement’ with Mercedes W15

With Hamilton off to Ferrari come 2025, the pressure has increased massively for Mercedes to ensure that their iconic Hamilton partnership ends on a high.

And to do that, the W15 will need to be a marked improvement on the W14, which crucially, Hamilton has said it is after his first day at the wheel.

“We’ve clearly made an improvement with this year’s car and it’s much nicer to drive,” he declared.

Read more – Positive Lewis Hamilton sees ‘clear improvement’ after first drive of Mercedes’ W15

Ferrari SF-24 sporting first-time-ever innovations

So far focus from a technical innovation standpoint has largely landed on the Mercedes W15 front wing and the hint of old Mercedes in the Red Bull RB20.

However, Ferrari has also been innovating with their SF-24, F1TV technical analyst Sam Collins highlight how they have done so in a new way around the engine cover.

“Ferrari have been playing with the mounts around the TV camera housings, they’re slightly kinked as they come out of the bodywork. Ferrari is the only team to do that,” said Collins, who went on to delve deeper into Ferrari’s tinkering around this area.

Read more  – Revealed: The Ferrari innovation that’s ‘something nobody’s done before’

Read next – Decoding Red Bull’s RB20: Shark mouth inlets and innovative design