BAHRAIN GP – Max Verstappen fastest four-tenths ahead of Charles Leclerc in second practice

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen was fastest in the second practice for this weekend’s season opening Bahrain Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver set a 31.936 on the soft tyres which put the world champion ahead of both Ferrari’s with Charles Leclerc going four-tenths faster than his teammate Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen looked to drive the Red Bull with ease, to put himself eight hundredths ahead of Leclerc with both his long and short-run pace looking decent. The Monacan tried to challenge Verstappen, while he put in a decent first and third sector Leclerc had a poor middle sector leaving him behind the Red Bull.

Leclerc led for most of the hour-long session, as in testing in Barcelona and last weekend in Bahrain, the Ferrari looking to be incredibly fast and consistent before the late fastest lap by Verstappen. Looking at race runs, Red Bull and Ferrari looked very evenly matched on pace.

Sainz set his fastest time a lot later in the session with soft tyres while the rest had already switched to the race runs, but he remained half a second behind both Verstappen and his Ferrari teammate.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports, “It’s been a positive day for us really. Both in the warmer conditions earlier today and in that last session – the short run and long run looked decent. But of course fuel loads and engine modes, there’s so many caveats, but we’re pretty satisfied with today’s running.”

George Russell put his Mercedes fourth fastest, almost six tenths off Verstappen. His teammate Lewis Hamilton looked to struggle as he reported a “problem with the front brakes,” “pulling” on his front-right corner, and Mercedes later explaining he was also losing out with a malfunctioning DRS.

Mercedes seemly to be telling the truth about being behind Red Bull and Ferrari, following the biggest regulation change in four decades in an attempt to close up the field and make the racing more competitive. They are looking to be the third-fastest team, but with a significant margin behind Red Bull and Ferrari, although a definitive picture will not be seen until after qualifying on Saturday.

Russell telling reporters “I think we made a bit of progress, but the pace is just not there at the moment. We’re a long way off the pace of Red Bull, Ferrari, even the likes of AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo are on our pace or quicker, so got a bit of work to do.”

After missing most of FP1 because of a misfiring power unit, Valtteri Bottas put his Alfa Romeo sixth going a hundredth faster than Sergio Perez. It appears that the Ferrari power unit has made a big step forward with both Haas’s also in the top ten Mick Schumacher eighth fastest over a tenth ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

Lewis Hamilton going ninth, splitting the two, after going four-hundredth ahead of the Dane. Lando Norris put his McLaren eleventh fastest, just under a tenth slower than the Haas. Esteban Ocon was another driver to struggle with proposing. Pierre Gasly couldn’t match the performance he showed topping FP1.

The Frenchman a second and six tenths off the pace, but ahead of Alpha Tauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda by a quarter of a second. Gasly also had a minor contact with Lance Stroll during the race runs at Turn Eight.

Guanyu Zuho putting his Alfa Romeo fifteenth, Stroll going three thousandths of a second faster than teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg driving for Aston Martin after four-time champion Sebastian Vettel this weekend, after he tested positive for Covid-19.

Daniel Ricciardo’s return following his own bout with Covid didn’t get any better in the evening session eighteenth. The McLaren driver only managing twelve laps before McLaren started doing something to the rear of the car.

The two Williams rounded out the field, Nicolas Latifi going two tenths faster than teammate Alex Albon.

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