McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen topped the timing screens at the end of the second day of Formula 1 testing, setting a sensational lap in the MP4-29, while a Renault renaissance of sorts appears to be underway.
Magnussen’s best lap time of 1.34.910 came during a flurry of fast laps in the afternoon, with a set of Pirelli Supersoft tyres bolted on to the McLaren. The time compares to the 1:33.702 set by Jenson Button during qualifying for last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
A remarkable achievement for brand new engines with a mere six days of real world running. Predictions that the new turbo era will be slow are now proving to be way off the mark.
Time spent in the pits during the course of the day, limited the Magnussen’s running to 46 laps, but his best time was a huge 1.5 seconds up on Nico Hulkenberg who amassed 59 laps in the Force India, making it one-two for Mercedes power at the end of the day.
Next best was Alonso who racked up 97 laps on his way to setting the third best lap time, late in the day, as again the Reds appeared to be sticking to their programme with little focus on hot laps.
Nico Rosberg, on his first day in the cockpit of the W05, was fourth fastest in the Mercedes, despite two stoppages for minor issues the German ended with 85 laps on his chart.
Busiest of all during the course of the day was Valterri Bottas who managed 116 laps in the Williams FW36, which made up for the team all the time that the team lost on the opening day, when fuel system problem sidelined Felipe Massa for most of Wednesday.
For Renault day two in Bahrain may well signal the turning of the tide, as all their teams, bar Lotus, managed to get some relatively meaningful track time.
Best of the Renault posse was Caterham, with Kamui Kobayashi sixth fastest and 66 laps to his credit, at the end of his first day at the wheel of the CT05.
Next up was quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who clocked up 59 laps, setting the seventh best time albeit half a second down on the Caterham and a whopping 5.430 seconds adrift of Magnussen’s best.
The other Red Bull owned team, Toro Rosso also enjoyed some meaningful running and pretty much shadowed what the sister team did on the day – Jean Eric Vergne was eighth fastest with 58 laps on the board.
The Ferrari powered Sauber and Marussia were five seconds off Alonso’s best, with Esteban Gutierrez ninth in the C33 and Max Chilton slowest and doing the least laps of all, in the MR03, thanks to a fuel feed issue.
Lotus’ late start to the 2014 pre-season testing, having missed Jerez, appears to be plaguing them as Romain Grosjean could only manage 18 laps in total, and ended down in tenth, and way off the pace in the twin tusk E22.
Subbed by AJN.
Bahrain Test, Day 2 Lap Times – Thursday, 20 February