Bottas quickest as Mercedes return to the top in Bahrain 

Gasly 2nd, Stroll 3rd


By Olivier Ferret

13 March 2021 - 17:09
Bottas quickest as Mercedes return (...)

Valtteri Bottas set the quickest time of pre-season testing so far as Mercedes enjoyed a more productive second day at the Bahrain International Circuit.

After troubles on the opening day of the three-day test, Bottas posted 58 laps in the afternoon on his way to the quickest time of the day. However, the Finn needed to bolt on a set of the softest tyres on offer, the red-banded C5 compound Pirelli, to dislodge AlpahTauri’s Pierre Gasly from top spot on the timesheet. Gasly too had used the C5 for his best time of the day and finished just 0.124 behind the Finn.

Earlier in the day Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton also enjoyed a more productive outing with the seven-time world champion also getting through 58 laps of the desert circuit in the morning session, despite an early off.

Hamilton, though, restricted himself to hard tyres during his running and finished the day in 15th place on the timesheet.

A number of drivers moved to soft-tyre running in the latter part of the afternoon session.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll took third place on the timesheet with a late run on C5 tyres, posting a best time of 1:30.460 to finish 0.171s behind Bottas.

Fourth place also went to a Mercedes-powered driver, with McLaren’s Lando Norris as little over a tenth behind Stroll with a best lap of 1:30.586. While the top three used the C5, Norris’ best time was delivered on the C4 compound.

Norris was followed by C5 runners Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while Williams’ Nicholas Latifi finished seventh thanks to a C5 time of 1.31.672.

That was one thousandth of a second ahead of the eighth–placed Red Bull of Sergio Pérez, though the Mexican’s time was set on tyres three steps harder than those on the Williams man’s car.

Pérez spent the bulk of his running on the C2 hard tyre as day one’s quickest team focused on longer runs and an afternoon race simulation.

Pérez’s 117 laps weren’t without issue, however, and after briefly being restricted to the garage by a technical issue in the morning he was sidelined for a longer spell in the afternoon when the left side engine cover of his car blew off while on track. With debris strewn across the start-finish straight the session was red-flagged. Pérez later rejoined the action and completed his race run.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo finished in ninth place, while Fernando Alonso, making his return to F1 with Alpine, finished in 10th place as he too focused on the C2 hard tyre.

AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda was 11th on the timesheet ahead of Haas’ Mick Schumacher, the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and the second Haas of Nikita Mazepin.

There was trouble though for Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel as gearbox problems restricted him to just 10 laps in the morning and he finished in 16th and last place.

01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:30.289 58
02 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:30.413 87
03 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:30.460 71
04 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:30.586 52
05 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:30.760 125
06 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:30.886 73
07 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:31.672 132
08 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:31.682 117
09 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:32.215 52
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:32.339 128
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:32.684 57
12 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:32.883 88
13 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:33.072 56
14 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:33.101 76
15 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:33.399 58
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:38.849 10

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