Nyck de Vries escapes Bahrain penalty after Lando Norris FP2 incident
AlphaTauri debutant Nyck de Vries has escaped a penalty after a close call in the pit lane with Lando Norris in the second practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Dutchman was released into the path of Norris’s McLaren during FP2 at the Sakhir circuit, with the British driver locking up after braking to avoid contact before complaining of an unsafe release over team radio.
The incident was the subject of an investigation by the FIA stewards, but a verdict of no further action was reached.
Norris had a typically witty reply when asked how the visit to the stewards for himself and De Vries went, saying: “Great, everyone got away with everything.”
It was the biggest flashpoint of an otherwise forgettable day for AlphaTauri in Bahrain, with De Vries and team-mate Yuki Tsunoda no higher than 13th in first practice before the pair were sandwiched between the Williams drivers in 18th and 19th – 1.6 seconds slower than Fernando Alonso’s table-topping Aston Martin – in the evening session.
At the end of the day’s action, De Vries commented: “It was the first time I participated in an FP2 session as a full-time Formula 1 driver. Overall, I am satisfied with the work and progress we made.
“The conditions from FP1 to FP2 were quite different, but we worked well together as a team. We found ourselves a little on the back foot, but I’m confident that if we stick together and continue improving on the areas we believe we need to find performance in, we can make a step forward.
“It’s hard to make big changes in one weekend, however, we are aware of our weaknesses compared to our competitors. This track may not suit the characteristics of our car, but it’s early days. After a couple of weekends, we’ll be able to have a clearer picture.”
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Tsunoda added: “Today was not the easiest day. The performance itself doesn’t look good compared to our competitors so far. Obviously, we don’t know what programmes they ran, but on our side, there are limitations that we have identified.
“There is still one more practice session tomorrow and I’m feeling optimistic. We’ve definitely made a step forward compared to last year, so I’m confident we can continue moving in the right direction.
“It seems our long-run pace is better than our short-run one, which is maybe good for Bahrain, but there is performance missing. We’ll shift our focus now to qualifying, to improve as much as possible for tomorrow.”
Jonathan Eddolls, AlphaTauri’s head of trackside engineering, said: “We came into the race weekend with the benefit of having gathered data from last week’s three-day test, so the engineers have been very busy analysing and pulling this together, finding a good set-up for this week.
“The first session of the day is significantly hotter than the second session, and this tends to exaggerate any balance issues, so during FP1, we faced a bit of everything.
“We made several changes for FP2 which helped, and so too did the lower track temperature.
“The drivers still didn’t have the perfect balance, but it wasn’t too far away from the target.
“That said, the lap times were not competitive, so we have a significant amount of work ahead of us to understand why we seem to have taken a step back compared to the test.”