Kevin Magnussen posted the fastest time of the second day of testing in Bahrain as Mercedes-powered teams once again set the pace.
The McLaren rookie’s best time was set late in the afternoon on the super-soft Pirelli tyres. The Dane’s late run dropped yesterday’s fastest man Nico Hullkenberg to second on today’s timesheet. The Force India driver posted a best time of 1:36.445, 1.5 seconds adrift of Magnussen. Third quickest was Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard continuing Ferrari’s solid performance in testing with a time of 1:36.516.
Nico Rosberg was fourth for the works Mercedes team, finishing four tenths off Alonso’s time. The German, who was concentrating on race simulations, stopped twice on circuit in the morning, however, with unspecified issues. Nevertheless he managed to rack up 460km.
Afterwards, Mercedes Executive Director Paddy Lowe said: “Our day today was slightly troubled compared to other recent days; however, we still managed to get a lot of mileage done. We experimented with the medium tyre and found this to be a slight improvement on the harder compound, with more consistency.”
Red Bull Racing, meanwhile, at last enjoyed a profitable day, with Sebastian Vettel completing 59 laps in the troubled RB10.
The champion only managed 14 tours of the Sakhir Circuit yesterday before a mechanical issue halted progress. According to the team’s Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum that issue hadn’t hindered the team’s overnight progress.
“We had a very good day,” he said. “We were able to fix the problem we had yesterday very quickly and there were no lingering issues, so we managed some good running today.
“We’re not out of the woods yet and we still have a lot of work to do but the direction we’ve taken is looking like the right one,” he added. “After a successful morning we tried some new elements late in the day, which we had been waiting for. Sebastian felt those were a big step forward, so overall a very encouraging session.”
It was a better day too for Williams. Yesterday, Felipe Massa had been restricted to just five laps by a fuel system problem but the Grove team made up for lost time today, with Valtteri Bottas logging a massive total of 116 laps in the FW36. The Finn finished fifth on the timesheet with a lap of 1:37.328.
Behind Bottas, Kamui Kobayashi, taking over from Robin Frijns at the wheel of the Caterham CT05, finished sixth, though his 66 laps weren’t without problems.
A telemetry issue held the Japanese driver back in the morning but despite the problems Kobayashi, who will hand over to Marcus Ericsson tomorrow, branded it a “useful day’s work”.
“It was good to be back in the car and even though we had quite a few interruptions in the morning with a telemetry issue, we still completed 66 laps which is another useful day’s work,” he said.
“Reliability is going to be so important this year, and it’s good that the issues we’ve had here have been fixed well enough to allow us to keep running. It’s also good to finish the day with a relatively quicker lap, but even though everyone knows lap times don’t really mean anything in the tests, it’s good for the team to start to see us unlocking some of the car’s performance.”
Toro Rosso, meanwhile, look to have overcome some of the problems that have plagued it. Jean-Eric Vergne completed 58 laps today, though the Frenchman did bring out the red flags just before 1pm and then completed only a handful more later on.
Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez also halted proceedings in the afternoon, the Mexican driver being stopped by an electrical problem with his C33.
It was a tough second day in the car for Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman had a troubled first outing yesterday and the gremlins struck again today as the E22 completed just 18 laps.
Finally, Max Chilton also hit trouble. After a solid start to the day a fuel system problem led to extensive work in the garage, although he emerged for three more laps just before the end of the day’s running.
Bahrain Test 1 – Day Two Times
1. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:34.910s 46 laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:36.445s +1.535s 59 laps
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:36.516s +1.606s 97 laps
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.965s +2.055s 85 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.328s +2.418s 116 laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:39.855s +4.945s 66 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.340s +5.430s 59 laps
8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:40.609s +5.699s 58 laps
9. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:40.717s +5.807s 55 laps
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:41.670s +6.760s 18 laps
11. Max Chilton Marussia 1:42.511s +7.601s 17 laps