Bahrain Testing, Day 2: Ferrari fastest and strong on long-runs

22 Feb, 2024

There is only one day of testing left in Bahrain, a week before the first qualifying session of 2024. Ferrari was the only team to use three sets of C4 tyres, doing so with Sainz in the afternoon.

The Spaniard managed to put himself in P1, with the Italian outfit also finishing the morning session in first. Ferrari also exceeded the 130-lap threshold, securing two consecutive days of strong running.

Carlos Sainz’s 1.29.921 on the C4 compound was a good sign. Although fuel loads are unknown, the SF-24 is already proving to be a clear step forward.

McLaren showed equally competitive times on the low-fuel runs, although issues in the afternoon limited his running. Sergio Perez was, unsurprisingly, less competitive and less comfortable than his teammate after his first day in the RB20.

He also suffered a small electronic problem in the afternoon, which kept him out of action for only a few minutes. Ferrari and Red Bull both completed a race simulation, although at different stages of the day.

Bahrain test: Ferrari better in long runs, Mercedes with late low-fuel attempts

In the late afternoon, around race time, Carlos Sainz completed a race simulation and produced consistent times. This validates pre-season expectations that the SF-24 would be faster and more predictable than its predecessor.

Charles Leclerc also revealed the SF-24 enjoys improved handling and simulator-track correlation.

Direct comparison with Perez’s 57-lap race simulation would be imprecise – since the Mexican carried out his simulation a few hours earlier on a warmer track.

Still, the number 11’s stints did not impress in terms of speed, and he finished with an overall average of just three-tenths better than a similar simulation done in 2023.

At the end of the day, Perez (129 laps in total) set a best time of 1.30.684 with a C3 tyre.

Of course, this is not directly comparable with the times set by Sainz and Norris previously. Tomorrow, the hope is to see Max Verstappen engaged in a similar program, which the Dutchman did not carry out in the 2023 Bahrain Tests.

Lewis Hamilton ended the day in P2 with a very late lap on the C3s, setting a 1.31.066 with 30 minutes left in the session. Before that, Mercedes focused entirely on longer stints to study the behaviour of the W15.

After another 123 laps, the team seems satisfied they made a step forward.

McLaren finished in fourth place in the overall standings with a time of 1.31.256 obtained in the early afternoon with the C3 compound, a few tenths behind Sainz with the same track conditions.

The MCL38 completed several high-fuel runs – despite their reliability issues. At the end of the day, the Woking team only completed 87 laps.

Further back, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Stroll, Ocon, Bottas and Piastri complete the top ten.

The team that has not yet run qualifying simulations – or any stint on low fuel – is Haas. Once again, Magnussen and Hulkenberg continued collecting data on the VF-24 and studying tyre management.

Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden-Ndisang