Formula 1

Valtteri Bottas fastest overall on Saturday as Mercedes return to the top

3 Mins read
Credit: Steve Etherington

Valtteri Bottas set the overall fastest time on the second day of FIA Formula 1 World Championship testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team returned to the top of the timesheets on Saturday, but it wasn’t all plain sailing for the world champions.

The Finn was missing for the first fifty-five minutes of the afternoon session, despite only doing six laps on Friday, but racked up plenty more laps on the track (fifty-six) and went fastest overall in the final hour with a time of 1:30.289 on soft tyres.

Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, had a morning to forget on Saturday. While the British driver managed to get laps in the bag, half-way through the session, Hamilton spun off at turn 13 and beached the W12 in gravel, bringing out the red flag.

The 2020 world champion managed to get back out in the final hour of the session, but only went eighth fastest in the morning with 58 laps completed, finishing fifteenth overall across the day on a medium set of tyres.

McLaren F1 Team and Daniel Ricciardo continued to show excellent pace on Saturday morning and topped the morning session with a time of 1:32.215 on hard tyres, accumulating fifty-two laps. Lando Norris spent the first hour and fourty minutes in the afternoon in and out of the garage, not setting a lap time, but the British driver was unleashed from the shackles in last hour and went fourth fastest, just 0.297 seconds slower than Bottas on a C5 compound of tyres.

Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso returned to the Formula 1 track as he undertook a full day of testing with Alpine F1 Team. The Spanish driver made his first appearance in the A521 after being involved in a cycling collision last month in which he broke his jaw and revealed last night that he will spend the whole season with two titanium plates in his jaw. But this didn’t hamper him.

Alonso was second fastest in the morning session, going one-tenth behind Ricciardo, before spending the afternoon on longer runs to finish ninth overall, ranking up one hundred and twenty-eight laps.

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda continued to show promising signs with a Honda-powered engine. Pierre Gasly spent the opening stages of the afternoon performing longer runs, similar to Grand Prix length, but setting faster time laps.

The Frenchman went second fastest, 0.124 seconds behind Bottas on C5 compound set of tyres, while his new team-mate Yuki Tsunoda got more experience in the F1 car this morning with fifty-seven laps completed, setting a time over two seconds behind Gasly.

Sebastian Vettel’s Mercedes-powered Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team car was halted in the paddock with a gearbox issue in the morning, similar to Bottas’ problem yesterday, and only did nine laps in the final thirteen minutes of the session, finishing seventeeth and last overall.

Lance Stroll enjoyed a more comfortable afternoon in his AMR21, ranking up seventy laps and in the final parts of the session put on the soft tyres, matching times done by Norris and Gasly. The Canadian finished third overall, 0.171 seconds behind Bottas, putting aside any concerns about Aston Martin’s pace.

Sergio Pérez and Nicholas Latifi also made their first appearance in testing, with the former starting 2021 his new journey at Red Bull Racing and went third fastest in the morning, but under two seconds slower than Max Verstappen’s fastest time yesterday.

The Mexican then spent the afternoon performing longer run sessions on hard set of tyres, completing one hundred and seventeen laps before going eighth fastest overall. However, Pérez brought out the red flag half-way through the afternoon session as parts of his engine cover fell onto the track.

Williams Racing‘s Latifi also enjoyed a good day, going fastest in the middle sector in the morning session. The Canadian spent the whole day in the FW43B, accumulating one hundred and thirty-two laps and finished seventh. His team-mate George Russell will spend tomorrow in the Williams car.

Scuderia Ferrari‘s new driver Carlos Sainz Jr lost the rear-end of his car in the middle sector, but went onto complete fifty-six laps in the morning, finishing thirteenth overall. His new team-mate Charles Leclerc seemed to be struggling in the SF21 until the late parts of the session, setting the sixth-fastest time on medium tyres. A slight improvement for Ferrari after disappointing start to the day.

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN‘s Antonino Giovinazzi also showed promising signs. The Italian driver spent the whole day in the seat, bagging one hundred and twenty-five laps and was fastest at one point before finishing fifth overall, fourth-tenths slower than Bottas on a medium set of tyres.

Rookie driver Nikita Mazepin also felt the heat in the desert, having been blocked twice while trying to set a hot lap, but can take comfort knowing he set the most laps of anyone in the morning session (seventy-five). Mick Schumacher also didn’t have a day to shout about after going twelfth fastest in the afternoon and completed eighty-eight laps in the second Uralkali Haas F1 Team VF-21.

177Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:30.28958
210Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:30.4130.12487
318Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:30.4600.17170
44Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:30.5860.29752
599Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:30.7600.471124
616Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari 1:30.8860.59773
76Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:31.6721.383132
811Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing1:31.6821.393117
93Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:32.2151.92652
1014Fernando AlonsoSPAAlpine F1 Team1:32.3392.050127
1122Yuki TsunodaJAPScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:32.6842.39557
1247Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1:32.8832.59488
1355Carlos SainzSPAScuderia Ferrari 1:33.0722.78356
149Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team1:33.1012.81276
1544Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:33.3993.11058
165Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:38.8498.56010

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