Kevin Magnussen beat day one pacesetter Nico Hulkenberg at the second day of pre-season F1 testing in Bahrain to put McLaren back at the head of the timesheets. The Dane managed the feat despite completing relatively few laps throughout the running.
The day started with a slice of disappointment for erstwhile milestone-team Mercedes as Nico Rosberg stopped out on circuit at turn eight, compounding comments made by Lewis Hamiton yesterday to the effect that the Anglo-German squad had not yet completely got on top of reliability like some observers imagined they had. The German didn’t have long to wait however; he was back on track within an hour, the glitch solved. As this minor drama unfolded there was another surprise as Jean Eric Vergne racked up a convincing tally of laps in the Toro Rosso STR9, a car that has proven hideously unreliable thus far and continued that record in the hands of Daniil Kvyat yesterday. However, Vergne was soon up to a total of forty six completed laps, rivalling the total amount completed by the team at the last test in Jerez. Parent team Red Bull also showed off a degree of improved reliability, though Lotus, who are taking part in their first pre-season test in Bahrain, experienced problems with their Renault engine and missed out on a large chunk of the days track time.
The afternoon session heralded another hint of panic for Mercedes as Rosberg repeated his break down of the morning period, the F1W05 hauled back to the pits on the back of a recovery track for the second time in a single day. Vergne also finally hit problems that necessitated his recovery, but Toro Rosso at least achieved some meaningful running on a moderately successful day. Williams similarly enjoyed a better day than Wednesday, as Valtteri Bottas replaced Felipe Massa in the cockpit and overcame the problems that kept the Brazilian in the garage yesterday.
McLaren had a mere eleven laps on the board with seventy-five minutes of the day left, but it didn’t stop Kevin Magnussen logging some competitive short run times; one would have to question how much meaningful data the British team gleaned from the running though.
Sauber continued to struggle with their brake-by-wire issue, while Force India pushed on through another successful day of on-track activity with Nico Hulkenberg before the German hands over to team-mate Sergio Perez tomorrow. Hulkenberg took the fastest time from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at the halfway point, as the Spaniard focused on long fuel run data harvesting in the afternoon – there was an approximate 2-2.5 seconds per lap deficit when the cars were brimmed with fuel to simulate the start of a Grand Prix.
DAY TWO – TIMES – Bahrain Testing 20th Feb 2014