Fernando Alonso went fastest at the end of FP2 for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, faster than Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
It was two double Formula 1 Champions at the top of the timing sheets in FP2 in Bahrain, but the order was not what anyone would’ve expected.
It was Fernando Alonso who went fastest in the afternoon session in Bahrain, 0.169s faster than Max Verstappen, as Sergio Perez was 0.002s further down the road in third.
Notably, and as all the teams went out on their long runs in the second half of the session, Red Bull and Aston Martin were the best two teams on the heavy fuel runs with the advantage swaying towards the former.
Ferrari on the other hand was a bit slower in the long runs, while Mercedes were even further behind.
While the session is more representative than FP1, it would be smart not to make too many predictions, not until qualifying gives us the real picture, as Ferrari seem to be holding back, the same applying to Red Bull.
After FP1 that ran in high-temperature conditions, FP2 would be the first meaningful running during the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, as qualifying and the race would take place in similarly cool conditions on Saturday and Sunday.
Nothing was actually surprising from the first session, as Red Bull seemed to have the edge while Ferrari kept their powder dry with no qualifying simulations.
Aston Martin seemed to be in a good place as well, but logic says the won’t be the second fastest team as we should wait and see what Mercedes and Ferrari unleash in terms of speed, while also Alpine should be monitored.
Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur commented on his team’s FP1; he said: “We always want to get more and it’s the same for every single team. You will never find a team that says okay. everything is perfect.
“The DNA of this is we have to try get a better car, but I think its the same at Red Bull. What is true is the conditions will be completely different tonight and we were more focused on test items this morning and we will be focused on performance this afternoon.
“It will be a good preparation for quali and the race. In Bahrain we have a huge difference between the afternoon session and the evening session, something like 25 degrees of track temp. It’s almost a different track,” the Frenchman concluded.
Bahrain FP1 Session Highlights
The teams set out at the start of FP2 running the Soft compounds executing some qualifying runs, with several drivers taking turns at the top of the timing screens as the track started to evolve.
Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg had brief moments at the top of the time table as a worthy mention.
Early on in the session, and as was the case in FP1, Charles Leclerc didn’t seem to be happy with the clutch of his SF-23.
“There’s still something strange with the clutch, so let’s look at it,” he said over the team radio.
In the meantime, Max Verstappen did not seem to be enjoying his RB19, as the reigning World Champion reported over the radio: “I feel like the car is jumping around a lot more than testing.”
Oscar Piastri continued his off-track excursions in FP2, locking up and running wide at Turn 1 flat-spotting his tyres badly, after getting too close for comfort with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
“The flat spot was too bad,” the Australian rookie reports.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown gave some mid-session updates on McLaren’s status; he said: “Well, so far things are going well, the drivers are happy with the car, learning a lot, so hopefully we can get near Q3.[The wheel brow issues] have been fixed, no problems, so we have had uninterrupted running.
“[Piastri and Norris] are on similar programs. Oscar needs to get his race craft going, it’s pretty early in the season and he has a pretty tough team mate in Lando, but he is doing what we expect from him,” he added.
With 26 minutes remaining from the session, Russell complained about the floor of his W14. He said: “Please check the floor. I went a bit wide at the exit of 7. Had a big wobble.”
While a bit later, Fernando Alonso ran wide after locking up his brakes going into Turn 10, while being on some long runs on the Medium tyres.
Also Nyck de Vries ran wide at Turn 9, but survived the incident to continue his run.
All the teams spent the final part of the session doing long runs on heavy fuel loads and harder tyre compounds.
So, Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap time around the Bahrain International circuit, a 1:30.907 after running 25 laps in the one-hour session.
Max Verstappen’s 1:31.076 was good for second fastest, the Dutchman not yet fully satisfied with his RB19, the Bulls usually making progress between Friday and Saturday, keeping in mind the #1 car was fastest on the long runs.
Sergio Perez was 0.002s behind his teammate in third, while Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest for Ferrari, 0.289s behind the Mexican, Ferrari seemingly sandbagging up to now.
A surprise of the session was Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas, whose 1:31.376 was briefly the fastest time in the session, but in the end was good enough for fifth and 0.469s off the pace.
Another decent session by Lance Stroll who, from onboard footage, could be seen struggling with his injury, but ended the session sixth fastest 0.543s slower than his teammate.