McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen led the timesheets on Day 2 of the Bahrain test as F1 testing reached its halfway point. The Danish driver clocked the Bahrain International Circuit on a set of super-soft tyres in 1m34.910s to beat Hulkenberg’s benchmark by 1.5 seconds. While times tumbled all day long, Magnussen’s fastest lap was still 2.6 seconds slower than Nico Rosberg’s pole time during the 2013 season.
Fernando Alonso had another strong outing in his Ferrari after completing 97 laps and posting a lap time that was good enough for third on the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg proved that Mercedes isn’t bullet proof after stopping twice during the day due to a sensor failure. After spending over 2 hours in the garage, the German returned to the track to record the fourth fastest time of the day, a 1m36.965s.
“We achieved another good amount of laps today which proves that the first part of testing in terms of reliability is going well,” Rosberg said. “ We had a few small issues but it’s important to find out what they are to see what is not yet running perfectly. We need to push the car to the limits to see how it works in every condition. We don’t yet know where we are in terms of performance, but today was a great day for me personally because I felt at home in the new car for the first time. All the settings were as we would like and the buttons on the steering wheel are now easier to get used to.”
Valtteri Bottas made it four Mercedes-powered cars in the top five as the Finn tried to cover up for yesterday’s lack of running. Driving the Williams FW36 in its interim livery, Bottas completed 115 laps - more than any driver today - to finish the day as fifth fastest.
Caterham were again the fastest of the Renault-powered lot with F1 returnee Kamui Kobayashi locking the 5.4km circuit in 1:39.855s to record the sixth fastest time of the day.
Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing finally had something to cheer about as Sebastian Vettel completed more laps today than the team did on all the first five days of testing combined.
“Definitely a better day today,” the four-time world champion said “We did more laps, so that’s encouraging. It’s good to check the car, check the reliability, but obviously there is a lot still to do. It was good to get a proper first feel for the car and it feels OK but there’s a lot more to come. It’s difficult to talk about catching up [to rivals] because I don’t know what other people are doing, but we did more laps than we have done so far and that’s the big thing. We’re learning every single lap, even if the quality of the lap is sometimes not the best. However, the most important thing is to run and we did that. The last two days have been very useful. I hope Daniel can get some more good laps in tomorrow.”
Their sister team, Toro Rosso had a decent day too, after the first day of their Bahrain running was halted by an oil leak. Jean Eric Vergne logged 58 laps to finish just ahead of Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber - both in terms of lap time and mileage. However, both drivers stopped on track due to varied reasons.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean was left frustrated after he could complete just 18 laps today to add to the eight laps from his first outing in the E22. With Maldonado taking over the car for the next two days, Grosjean will only get to drive Lotus’s 2014 challenger in the final pre-season test which takes place at the same circuit next week.
“We achieved some more laps today but there’s still work to be done,” said Grosjean. “It’s been a frustrating couple of days as I want to get as many laps under my belt as possible, but at least we’re learning some things about the car. I’m looking forward to returning for next week’s test and seeing what progress has been made.”
Finally, Max Chilton completed the timesheets after fuel system problems limited him to just 17 laps around the Middle East country.