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Sainz quickest on second day of testing


Carlos Sainz set the pace on the second day of testing in Bahrain, though the true pecking order remains a mystery.

Note: Given an extra hour of running once everyone had finished, Kevin Magnussen posted a best time of 1:33.207, thereby going 0.325s quicker than Carlos Sainz and ending the day at the top of the timesheets.

As was the case this morning, there were numerous red flag stoppages, even down to another botched system check, this afternoon's featuring a 'rolling start' that merely saw Lance Stroll roll to a complete stop.

Following its problems this morning, Williams missed out on this afternoon's running, the Grove outfit revealing, 75 minutes into the afternoon, that: "Repairs are underway on the FW44. We will not take part in the remainder of today's running but look forward to hitting the track for the final day of testing here tomorrow."

Meanwhile, as McLaren awaits parts from its Woking HQ, Norris' running was restricted to runs of no more than ten laps at a time. Having completed 29 laps earlier, the youngster was able to add a further 31 to his tally this afternoon.

While Latifi and Bottas were the cause of this morning's stoppages, this afternoon it was Ocon and Norris who left us seeing red. To compound a miserable day for the Briton and his team, during one of his stops Norris slightly overcooked it causing the jack to hit a crew member, though thankfully nobody was injured.

Porpoising is still very much a factor, with Mercedes, Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Haas looking the most affected. As if this wasn't enough, in the latter stages of the afternoon the wind picked up and poor visibility became an issue, though the predicted sandstorm never materialised.

One of the afternoon's highlights had to be a brief battle between Verstappen and Sainz around 40 minutes before the chequered flag. Having shadowed the Dutchman for several corners, the Spaniard nailed him entering Turn 1. They battled for several corners before the world champion finally edged ahead.

Between them the 15 drivers completed 868 laps compared to yesterday's 955, Yuki Tsunoda completing 120 in the AlphaTauri and Esteban Ocon 111 in the Alpine.

While Williams only completed 12 laps, McLaren has to be disappointed by its 60 and Alfa Romeo by its 73, Mercedes managed 114 - the same as Ferrari - compared to Red Bull's 86.

Sainz ended the day quickest, and while second-placed Verstappen was 0.479s behind, the Dutchman, Stroll, Hamilton, Ocon and Leclerc were covered by just 0.355s.

That said, while Hamilton's best was posted on the softest C5 rubber, Leclerc was on C3 and the rest on C4.

As McLaren awaits the arrival of those all-important updates, it's anticipated that Red Bull will reveal a significant upgrade tomorrow.

Being the final day, and the season opener just a week away, we can expect to see some hot laps and hopefully gain a better idea of the pecking order.

The day proved to be one of mixed fortunes for Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen. The German was first out in the VF-22 looking to build on the 89 laps accrued in Barcelona - but his departure from the garage was delayed by almost an hour as an oil leak was rectified. His run plan was further compromised by a cooling problem, but ultimately it was an exhaust issue that ended his track time early with just 23 laps banked. He ran on the C2 tyre with a best lap of 1:37.846.

Magnussen fared better in the afternoon as he took the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time since December 2020. The veteran was quickly back up to speed and ended his return setting the fastest lap of the day as he posted a 1:33.207 lap on the C4 tyre.

Magnussen's time was set during his final hour of running in the evening - the team running one hour longer than the rest of the field to claw back one of the four hours of lost track time in testing caused by a freight delay earlier in the week. He recorded a total of 60 laps.

"There were a few things unfortunately that meant we didn't get to drive as much as we wanted to," said Schumacher. "Nonetheless, we learned more which is always positive and I have over 100 laps now in this new car. I'm hoping for a few more tomorrow but we're in a good way where we're learning about the car better and now it's just about reliability. Everyone in the team is looking forward to racing now."

"It was so good to be back in a Formula 1 car and so good to be back with the team," said Magnussen, "I think it went really well. We had a good day of testing. I spent the first couple of runs getting back up to speed with a Formula 1 car but other than that it felt like I hadn't been away. I could feel my neck at the end of it though - it kind of broke - but that's expected. I'll do another day tomorrow, break it even more, and then hopefully get in a little better shape for next week."

"It's been a better day today," added Guenther Steiner. "It started with a few problems in the morning for Mick and we didn't get the running we wanted but I think it was worthwhile going through it, even just to get some of the gremlins out of the car.

"In the afternoon, we got out a little bit late because we needed to fix the car and it was quite a good session for Kevin. We ran an hour longer than everybody else because we lost the time on the first day but overall, we're going in the right direction. Unfortunately, we just have one day left, I wish we had three."

Today saw Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz work on two different programmes at Ferrari. Between them, the two racked up 114 laps, equivalent to 617 kilometres. It brings the total for the test so far to 230 laps (1,244 km).

As planned, Leclerc took to the track shortly after 10am local time (8 CET). For the majority of the session he ran the C3 compound, continuing to work on car set-up. Towards the end of his day in the cockpit, just before the lunch break, the Monegasque did some long runs on that same tyre, before switching to C2 in the final minutes. The session was red-flagged three times, twice when cars stopped out on track and once for a procedural check. Overall, Charles did 54 laps, the best in 1:34.366 on the C3 compound.

As has always been the case so far this year, during the lunch break, the mechanics adapted the F1-75 to accommodate Carlos who ran a different programme to his team-mate in the afternoon. The Spaniard began in qualifying trim, on the C2 tyres before switching to the C3, C4 and C5. His best time of 1:33.532, set using C4s, was also the quickest of all today. In the final hour, he too did some long runs, simulating race conditions. He did a total of 60 laps (325 km).

Tomorrow, Carlos will be first out handing over to Charles in the afternoon.

"Another session with a lot of tests completed," said Leclerc. "We are learning a lot about our car as well as the tyres, which are still relatively new to us.
The balance seems to be good and I feel comfortable so far, but we have to keep in mind that the time sheets don't mean anything and there is still a lot more to come from our competitors.

"What is positive is that we have been consistent and have had no issues so far. We will keep working to learn as much as we can on our final day tomorrow."

"A bit of a strange afternoon," added Sainz, "with track conditions changing a lot from run to run, especially the strong wind which made it difficult to be consistent on the short runs and to get a good understanding of each compound and how they compared to one another.

"We will analyse everything tonight and prepare a good run plan for tomorrow, as there are quite a few things I still want to test on the last day. In general, another positive day for the team."

Today saw Max Verstappen take over from Sergio Perez, and though running was interrupted on a number of occasions by red flags elsewhere, the world champion eventually made his way to second spot on the timesheet, using the C4 compound to set a best time of 1:34.011. The Dutchman also gave a demonstration of the overtaking potential of F1's new cars during a brief and good-spirited on-track battle with Carlos Sainz.

Though the frequent stoppages left Max with a total of 86 laps, the Dutch driver was pleased with the progress made during the course of his day.

"I think we did as good a job as we could today," he said, "it was very warm and there were quite a few red flags. It was quite a good day, all pretty standard and we put quite a good amount of laps on the car. We won't really use these tyre compounds for the race so again, it's not really representative.

"It was fun to have a little battle with Carlos, I think he was on a long run with more fuel and I was on a shorter run and once I caught him he started using DRS, I think he wanted to race as well. So far the car is pretty good but there are always areas to work on."

Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin added that even though the red flags hampered running, the team had planned for a more punctuated session today as it delved deeper into optimisation options for the RB18. "It was more of a stop-start day today, mostly by design," he said. "We had a good continuous run yesterday, so today was more about exploring and testing different things. We spent more time in the garage making changes to the car and also taking more risks. We learned a lot and gathered a lot of information today.

"I'm quite happy with what we found out, we are progressing in different directions and it's all very positive. We were reasonably competitive at the end without even trying."

Check out our Friday gallery from Bahrain, here.


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