[Race Pace Analysis] Bahrain GP – FP2
The teams had three days of Testing on the Bahraini circuit before this weekends’ race – which should help them better preparing for what is ahead.
While Daniel Ricciardo skipped last week’s sessions due to testing positive for Covid-19, he was ready to get back in his MCL36 already this morning. Aston Martin however had to change their lineup at the last minute after Sebastian Vettel tested positive; Nico Hulkenberg was therefore behind the wheel of the AMR22 today, and will replace the German champion for the entire weekend.
BAHRAIN GP FP2 – RACE PACE ANALYSIS
Mercedes is still very much hiding their true power in the qualifying runs, but the W13 does seem to suffer from a couple of, currently unsolved, issues. While Lewis Hamilton couldn’t open his DRS due to a malfunction of its mechanism, George Russell registered top speeds of 305 kmph on his hot laps – on average slower than Red Bull, and more in line with Ferrari, which goes to show there’s still a lot to be expected from both these engines.
Their race pace was not too bad compared to the Red Bull of Max Verstappen; Russell averaged a 1:38.647/lap on Soft tyres, while Hamilton did his long run on the Medium compound averaging a 1:38.792/lap.
The RB18 seems to be the car to beat in both the qualifying and race pace simulations. Verstappen averaged a 1:37.472/lap on his run on Soft tyres, with his teammate Pérez only managing an average of 1:38.467/lap on the same compound. The fuel loads, as the programs the single teams differentiate between teammates, are still however unknown.
Red Bull takes home the best times of the day with Verstappen, who topped the timesheet and registered the best stint so far.
The F1-75 keeps behaving like the engineers back in Maranello hoped it would. In the qualifying simulation, Charles Leclerc kept right on pace with Verstappen. Possibly due to the lack of “low fuel” running in Testing, Carlos Sainz struggled a bit more on his hot laps, staying half a second behind.
In the race pace simulations, Sainz averaged a 1:38.582/lap on Soft tyres; Leclerc did not finish a full stint, only managing two laps (avg 1:37.500/lap) before the session ended. Two laps are not really representative, especially with seven tenths between the first and the second lap of the short stint.
All in all, Ferrari looks like it might be in the fight with Red Bull, with Mercedes lagging a bit behind for the moment.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was forced to sit out most of the afternoon session due to a leak of hydraulic fluid on his MCL36. Norris suffered no issues, but had quite the anonymous session himself – after all, that seems to be the modus operandi with McLaren.
In his race pace simulation, Norris averaged a 1:39.709/lap on Soft tyres, seemingly struggling with tyre degreadation towards the end of the stint.
Nico Hulkenberg had to learn to drive AMR22 in only two hours of free practice. The German driver had a solid day of work, finishing just one tenth behind Lance Stroll in their quali runs – but seemed to struggle a bit more when it came to longer stints.
Lance Stroll had a decent race simulation on the Soft tyre compound, on which he averaged a 1:39.306/lap – a time that seems to be representative of half the teams in the midfield.
The Renault-powered team looked to be running a bit more power on their engine compared to their competitors – with top speeds that rival those of the Honda-powered Red Bulls. Nevertheless, their race simulation with both drivers looked very solid.
Alonso averaged a 1:38.648/lap on Medium tyres – faster than Hamilton, although there is still too much to take in consideration before we can say that. Ocon also put together a solid stint on the Soft compound, with an average of 1:38.862/lap.
AlphaTauri might be a wild card; their pace seems to be really good over one lap, but both drivers seem to struggle across longer stints, where the car seems to become trickier in the handling. Gasly averaged a 1:39.2/lap on Soft tyres, while Tsunoda had an average of 1:39.4/lap on the medium compound, far off Alonso’s stint.
Of one thing we are sure: the new grid seems to be closer together, and therefore more competitive. Fun times ahead…
Author: Toni Sokolov
Editing: Sara Esposito