Force India’s new boy Sergio Perez did the double by topping the timing screens for the second consecutive day, on the second day of the final Formula 1 pre-season test at Bahrain International Circuit, while Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed Red Bull’s best showing in the ten days of testing thus far.
Perez’s best time of 1.35.570 was slightly slower than his best 24 hours earlier, and still off Rosberg’s pace a week earlier. Nevertheless the VJM07 gobbled up the miles on the way to racking up 108 laps. The next time the Mexican drives will be when he drives out of the pits in Melbourne for the first practice of the Australian GP weekend.
Perez said, “It feels very good to have another full day and to do so many laps. It’s my last time in the car until we arrive in Melbourne and I’m feeling positive about how things are going. The set-up work today was very useful because we tried some different things to have a better direction for the first race. Everything went to plan and we managed to complete all the long runs in the afternoon.”
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso ended the day second fastest by a mere 0.064 of a second, in the F14T and with 122 laps ticked off he managed more mileage than anyone else on the day. The Maranello outfit is again looking solid, after Kimi Raikkonen’s niggle packed Thursday.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day is that the Red Bull RB10 covered some meaningful laps for a change, with 66 completed, despite a late start to their day. Also importantly for the world champions, they are starting to squeeze some reasonable pace out of their problem child. They were considerably quicker than they have been during the five previous days at Sakhir, and way ahead of the next best Renault powered outfit.
Next time Ricciardo acquaints himself with the car will be at his home race in a couple of weeks, as his world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel takes over for the final two days.
Williams continued to go about their business without too much fuss, this time Felipe Massa was on duty in the FW33, ending fourth fastest and with 104 useful laps in the bag.
Jenson Button was fourth fastest in the McLaren MP4-29, but his day was hampered with a drivetrain issue which caused him to stop out on track. Thereafter the team spent a long while sorting out the problem, with Button re-emerging for a late run, but 52 laps were his reward for the day’s graft.
Best of the Ferrari customer teams was Marussia, with Jules Bianchi in the cockpit of the MR03, albeit nearly 2.5 seconds adrift of Alonso’s best. Esteban Gutierrez was ninth fastest in the Ferrari powered Sauber C33. They racked up 75 laps and 106 laps respectively.
Seventh fastest was Lewis Hamilton, whose day started with an early morning visit to the gravel, which prompted the first stoppage of the day as the Mercedes W05 was retrieved. Although he did manage 89 laps, it was an early shower for the Briton as gearbox problems forced the team to bring an end to proceedings prematurely.
Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne ended with 61 laps, almost matching their sister Red Bull team with regards to mileage, but lagging nearly four seconds down on Ricciardo’s best lap time.
Lotus’s day was cut short when the Renault engine blew up and the E22 caught fire with Pastor Maldonado in the cockpit. The team explained on Twitter: “Sufficient char-grilling to render us out for the rest of today.”
They managed only 31 laps, way off the pace, and the decision to miss out on Jerez may have appeared good at the time, but right now it is clear that they are behind their rivals with their programme.
Final stoppage of the day came when Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham CT05 also caught fire, as he came to a stop in Turn 4, with less than an hour to go. The Danish rookie managed 55 laps, but as with Maldonado, the he was way off the pace.
Bahrain Test II, Day 2 Lap Times – Friday, 28 February