Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest on the first day of the third test at the Bahrain International Circuit. The Dutchman set his fastest time in the last ten minutes to beat the Ferrari of Mick Schumacher by six-tenths of a second.
Schumacher, who sits eighth in the F2 championship following the Bahrain Grand Prix, made an impressive start to his first outing going fastest in the Ferrari, before being beaten by the Dutchman. However, the rain expected over the weekend arrived.
Schumacher managed fifty-five laps going fastest at one point, he managed thirty-three laps before the rain, once the rain passed he worked his way up to second from eighth. The Germans time was half a second off Verstappen.
His best time saw him rise from eighth to second using the medium compound, C4 the second softest in the Pirelli range. He was closely matched by Verstappen throughout the day.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was third fastest nearly a second off the German. But he had shared duties with teammate Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. The two race drivers were separated by over two seconds on the track.
Alonso’s first outing for 2019 was for Pirelli along with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat they were testing a prototype tyre, with one and a half seconds between them.
While Norris’s running was restricted to just 22 laps due to the weather after taking over from Carlos Sainz in the afternoon but continued McLaren’s encouraging start to the year by posting the third-best time.
Pirelli and the teams opted not to bring wet tyres to Bahrain, expecting the desert to be dry. The day was heavily disrupted by a four-hour rain delay in the afternoon but times tumbled once cars returned to track, although fuel levels and car set-ups are unknown.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean ended the day fourth after being beaten by Verstappen and Schumacher, he failed to improve on his time following the rain. Alex Albon was fifth fastest in the Toro Rosso.
As was the case in Barcelona, Mercedes continued there low-key testing programme with Lewis Hamilton only sixth. However, Sunday’s race winner led the mileage charts for Mercedes, the Englishman continuing the tact used by the team.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo completed forty-five laps going seventh fastest, after another difficult weekend, the rain stopped him from getting more used to his Renault. The Australian finished ahead of the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, Sainz and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.
Mercedes will use a young driver test tomorrow as George Russell switches from Williams. Russell’s hopes of turning a corner in the team’s difficult start to the year saw the Englishman again routed to the bottom of the timesheets.
The test will become focused more on Ferrari tomorrow as Mick takes over the Ferrari. Given the start to the season, they will hope that they find answers to what happened on Sunday. Teams will begin then to look towards China and what improvements can be made.
Mercedes have again followed the normal tactic of quietly racking up miles this could be key as we have seen them out races Ferrari. You need to believe Ferrari’s can come back, the test may give some answers to the issues in the opening two races.