Lewis Hamilton ended the first in-season test of the season almost 1.5 seconds clear of his rivals as Ferrari were forced to call an early halt to their final day with a damaged chassis.
Mercedes spent the day tyre testing for Pirelli and Hamilton’s best time came in the morning session when he posted a lap of 1:34.136. That was good enough to stand for the rest of the day, with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne second with a lap of 1:35.557. The Frenchman got through 63 laps of the Sakhir circuit despite bringing out the red flags in the morning when he went off at Turn Four. Hamilton, meanwhile, managed a total of 120 laps.
Kevin Magnussen was third fastest on his second day at wheel for McLaren. The Dane’s running was limited, however. A car problem pitched him into the gravel traps shortly before lunch however and the team spent much of the afternoon repairing damage to the chassis. He emerged late on to record his P3 time but was restricted to just 26 laps in total.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, was forced to call a halt to his day’s work after just 12 laps. The Spaniard was running the chassis raced by Kimi Raikkonen in last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix and the team discovered damage to the chassis that could be traced back to the Finn’s collision with a kerb at Turn Four during FP1 of the race weekend.
A Ferrari spokesman said that the team had repaired “the local damage during the weekend, but it has now become clear that there was also some consequential damage, unseen over the remainder of the weekend. This damage became only apparent this morning, and we stopped running on a precautionary basis in order to fix the chassis.”
The day’s fourth-fastest time went to Bahrain GP podium-finisher Sergio Perez. The Mexican recorded a time of 1:36.586 over his 64 laps.
Red Bull Racing also encountered problems. The team’s morning programme was disrupted by an electrical issue that forced the team to shift the planned mapping work to the afternoon session.
That meant that Ricciardo spent most of the second half of the day on information-gathering runs focused on aero data.
“There were no real performance runs, just pure testing,” said the Australian afterwards. “At the end of the day we got a few medium-length runs in and a few balance changes, like we did yesterday. So, not really a day for the timesheets but one for the people at the factory and the guys behind the laptops.”
Jules Bianchi was sixth fastest, with the French driver also putting in a healthy 93 laps for Marussia. Giedo van der Garde took over from teenager Sergey Sirotkin at the wheel of the Sauber C33 and the Dutchman’s best time of 1:37.623 was good enough for seventh spot on the timesheet.
There were more problems for Renault-powered runners. Caterham got through a productive morning and continued to make progress in the afternoon, but after 66 laps, Marcus Ericsson stopped on track at Turn Eight, his CT05 sidelined with an ERS problem.
Romain Grosjean, though, could only manage 17 laps, Lotus again suffering with power unit issues. A grim Grosjean later said that the issues were “just not acceptable”.
Finally, Williams test driver Felipe Nasr finished in tenth position as the team devoted its final day to tyre testing for Pirelli.
Bahrain Test – Day Two Times
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.136s 120
2. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:35.557s +1.421s 64
3. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:36.203s +2.067s 26
4. Sergio Perez Force India 1:36.586s +2.450s 63
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:37.310s +3.174s 67
6. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:37.316s +3.180s 93
7. Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:37.623s +3.487s 77
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.912s +3.776s 12
9. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:39.263s +5.127s 66
10. Felipe Nasr Williams 1:39.879s +5.743s 64
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:43.732s +9.596s 17