Bahrain test day 2: Sainz puts Ferrari firmly at the top

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Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was the fastest man on track on Thursday at the end of the second day of official pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

Sainz' best time of 1:29.921s was the fastest of the week so far, putting him 0.758s ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, with Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris not far behind them.

Perez and Hamilton spent the whole day in their cars and both exceeded 100 laps out on track with 129 and 123 laps respectively. Logan Sargeant also passed the century despite a problem with his front left wheel hub in the final hour.

The afternoon session got underway earlier than originally planned and ran for five hours, after the morning had come to an abrupt early end for track repairs at turn 11 because a drain cover had come close and damaged Leclerc's Ferrari

The damage to the floor of the SF-24 was attended to during the hiatus, and the car was ready for Leclerc to head back out as soon as testing resumed. However he only had 30 minutes in the cockpit before handing over to Carlos Sainz.

Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Day 2

1Carlos SainzFerrari1:29.921s C4 84
2Sergio PérezRed Bull+0.758s C3 129
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes+1.145s C3 123
4Lando NorrisMcLaren+1.335s C3 52
5Daniel RicciardoRB+1.490s C4 88
6Charles LeclercFerrari+1.829s C3 54
7Lance StrollAston Martin+2.108s C3 96
8Esteban OconAlpine+2.140s C3 78
9Valtteri BottasSauber+2.306s C3 97
10Oscar PiastriMcLaren+2.407s C3 35
11Logan SargeantWilliams+2.657s C4 117
12Fernando AlonsoAston Martin+3.132s C3 31
13Zhou GuanyuSauber+3.794s C3 38
14Pierre GaslyAlpine+3.883s C3 33
15Kevin MagnussenHaas+6.690s C3 93
16Nico HülkenbergHaas+7.588s C3 31
17Yuki TsunodaRB+8.153s C2 40

Other teams made their own arrangements on drivers in lieu of the change in running times, with Red Bull opting to keep Sergio Perez in the RB20 all day rather than changing over at lunch.

Lewis Hamilton and Loan Sargeant were also in for an all-day stint, while Esteban Ocon was now in the Alpine, Daniel Ricciardo had taken over the RB, and Lando Norris had replaced Oscar Piastri in the McLaren.

Elsewhere Zhou Guanyu handed over the keys of the Sauber to Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen was now in the Haas, and Lance Stroll got his chance behind the wheel of the AMR24.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15.
22.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Sargeant did lose some time as the Williams engineers looked over the FW46 after he ran off at turn 11. McLaren also spent time working on a small fuel system issue on the MCL38, but the matter was soon attended to.

Leclerc's morning best of 1:31.750s still topped the timings. Hamilton went second fastest with a lap time of 1:32.273s in the Mercedes just over an hour into the session, and Stroll was fourth with a time of 1:32.419s as the track warmed up.

Sainz then moved to the top on 1:31.856s after an hour and a half with Bottas edging his former team mate Hamilton for second. Lagging toward the back, Ocon tried to put in a faster lap but locked up into turn 1 and caught some gravel.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB20. 22.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

By now, Sainz had been stretching his legs in the Ferrari and his best time of the day was 1:29.921s, quickest of the week so far by some margin. Norris was back in action and was second quickest for a spell with a time of 1:31.622s.

Sainz was nearly two seconds quicker than Max Verstappen's time on Wednesday. Perez wasn't showing the same sort of speed mid-session, and had a worrying moment when the Red Bull slowed and limped back to pit lane.

Whatever the issue, it was soon resolved and Perez was back out again shortly thereafter, going third quickest with a time of 1:31.461s as the sun started to set and the floodlights began to take over.

Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW46 in the pits.
22.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

With a full day on track, Perez, Hamilton and Sargeant all passed the one hundred lap mark. That was a particular relief for the Williams team after their glitch-prone experience on Wednesday, but there was a problem with the front left wheel hub of the FW46 costing them track time toward the end of the day.

In the final hour, Hamilton moved up to P2 behind Sainz with a time of 1:31.066s but was then bumped to third by an improved time from Perez of 1:30.684.s.

The session concluded with a ten minute Virtual Safety Car test before the chequered flag meant the teams had to put away their toys for the evening, with one last day of testing remaining on Friday.

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