It was day of mixed fortunes in Bahrain on the first day of the second stanza of Formula 1 testing, with Mercedes powered teams generally enjoying a fruitful outing, the Ferrari brigade looking solid, but the Renault teams again struggling to do meaningful mileage at a pace anywhere close to the top times – it was a case of deja vu as the script from Jerez testing was almost identical.
Perhaps the biggest (pleasant) surprise was the pace of the new V6 turbo powered cars. Pre-Bahrain test predictions were that breaking below the 1:40.00 mark would be a tough task, but instead times were respectable and way faster than anticipated.
Best time of the day, 1.36.880, was set by Nico Hulkenberg in the Mercedes powererd Force India with a set of soft Pirelli tyres bolted on to the VJM07 – the only di=river to use them – which compares to Felipe Massa’s best time of 1:34.487 set in FP1 during the Bahrain GP weekend last year.
A huge cheer went up in the Force India garage when Hulkenberg topped the timing screens. The satisfaction was almost palpable at the end of the day as the German notched up 78 valuable laps in the process.
Only two seconds difference for the V6 turbo Power Unit that has a mere five days track time is pretty remarkable, and gives credence to predictions that before the year is out the V6 turbos will be on par with the V8 normally aspirated ancestors they have replaced.
Fernando Alonso was second quickest in the Ferrari F14T, albeit a second down on the top time and 64 laps to his credit.
Next up, a tad slower, was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W05 who racked up some impressive long stints and ended the day with 74 laps on his chart.
Rookie Kevin Magnussen continued to impress with his performance in the McLaren MP-29, on his way to setting the fourth best time and 81 laps on the day.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team endured another frustrating day, as the overheating problems that plagued them last month at Jerez persisted and as a result, running of the RB10 was severely restricted, with 14 laps the total managed before the car came to a halt on track.
Nevertheless Vettel managed the fifth best time of the day which was best of the Renault powered posse, but well off Hulkenberg’s best. Detailed report here>>>
On the day Adrian Sutil managed to record the most laps, at the wheel of the Ferrari powered Sauber C33, with 82 to his credit, but nearly three seconds off Alonso’s best time.
Although Vettel was the fastest Renault powered driver, it was Robin Frijns in the Caterham CT05 who will have given the French manufacturer a glimmer of hope. The Dutch Reserve Driver was well off the fastest pace, but nevertheless managed to do 68 laps – more than the other three Renault teams managed collectively.
Rookie Daniil Kvyat lost out on precious track time as the Toro Rosso STR9 continued to be plagued with problems. The Russian teenager managed only five timed laps.
The much anticipated Lotus E22 finally broke cover, with Romain Grosjean out first when the session began at 09:30 am local time, but they too had a problem packed day. Eight laps were their reward on their first full day of official testing. Detailed report here>>>
After a very encouraging first test in Jerez, Williams endured a disappointing start to their Bahrain sessions with a fuel system issue which limited their running to a mere four laps and no time set. They were the only Mercedes powered outfit to experience major problems on the day.
Marussia’s opening day was also compromised, with Jules Bianchi managing a mere three laps altogether, none of them timed. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Bahrain Test, Day 1 Lap Times – Wednesday, 19 February
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