F1 testing 2021, Day 2 (update): Bottas puts Mercedes on top after tough start to testing


The second day of Formula 1's 2021 Bahrain test continues, Bottas quickest, Hamilton spins off as Red Bull hold back

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 13: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP looks dejected after stopping on track during Day Two of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on March 13, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Mercedes' stuttering start continues as Hamilton beached his W12

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Valtteri Bottas finally restored Mercedes to the top of the F1 pile at the end of day two of testing after a tumultuous start to the reigning champions’s season.

A run on the C5 and softest compound tyre was good enough to put the W12 on top in the final hour, and ahead of Red Bull for the first time since Abu Dhabi last year.

Daniel Ricciardo kept up his record of finishing every session that he’s been driving as fastest, putting McLaren first in the morning session, while Fernando Alonso was back in a modern-spec F1 car for the first time with Alpine.


Alonso returns

After two years away from the Formula 1 grid, Fernando Alonso returns today, as he tests the new Alpine car for the first time in Bahrain.

The two-time champion revealed yesterday that he would race throughout this season with two titanium plates in his jaw — a result of the cycling crash that interrupted his preseason training. However, he doesn’t expect it to affect his pace.

Sergio Perez and Nicholas Latifi also get their first taste of testing in 2021 for Red Bull and Williams, which leaves George Russell as the only 2021 driver yet to make an appearance on track. He is due to test on Sunday, after Williams gave test driver Roy Nissany a full day in the car on Friday.

Related article

Mercedes will be looking to make up for lost time after its car was stuck in the pits for most of Friday with a gearbox problem that “came out of nowhere”. Team principal Toto Wolff has warned that the team will struggle to recover if it encounters further problems.

Yesterday was the first chance to see the 2021 cars in full, with Mercedes’ complex floor and Alpine’s bulbous airbox attracting attention.

But Friday may not tell the full story, with teams potentially saving some parts until later in the test. Last year, we had to wait until Day 2 for the appearance of Mercedes’ DAS steering system. could today bring another surprise?

10 am update

Daniel Ricciardo set the pace and Fernando Alonso looked promising in the Alpine as Mercedes’ issues continued with a spin off for Hamilton.

The 7-time champion dropped it at Turn 13 and had to abandon his stricken car.

It resulted in a continuation of what represents the worst start to a hybrid season for the Silver Arrows since 2014, as a gearbox issue limited running for them on Day 1.

High winds caused trouble for others, as both Nicolas Latifi and Carlos Sainz flat-spotted tyres with spins.

Fernando Alonso set the early pace for Alpine with a 1min 32.339ssec before Daniel Ricciardo bested this with a 1min 32.215sec in his McLaren.

After Mercedes’ troubles with a gearbox yesterday, Aston Martin ran into similar woes as Sebastian Vettel was kept in the garage for an extended period in the second half of the session.

The four-time champion made it back out in the final 10 minutes of the session but lost out on valuable track time versus rivals.

For the second day running though, it was McLaren and Ricciardo that led the way by the time the morning session came to an end.

Afternoon Session

Long runs took up much of the afternoon on day two, with teams running race stints and multiple-lap runs as they worked through run plans.

A brief on-track battle between Williams’s Nicholas Latifi and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took the attention for multiple laps as the Frenchman tried to find a way past.

Though full power modes won’t have been run, it took a late dive into Turn One after a few laps behind to clear Latifi even with DRS assistance.

Sergio Perez brought out the red flags in a bizarre incident that saw his engine cover detatch from the rear of his Red Bull and explode into plenty of carbon fibre shards on the main straight.

After the track was cleared, we got the first sight of what Mercedes might be capable of, with Valtteri Bottas desperate to catch up on the time he missed from yesterday morning’s gearbox issue.

He put Mercedes ahead of Red Bull for the first time in testing with a lap on the C3 tyre to go fourth fastest. That was until a flurry of soft-tyre runs in the final hour from the majority of the field.

Lando Norris and Gasly traded fastest times on the C4 and C5 tyres respectively until Bottas returned to the track on the softest C5 tyres to put Mercedes top of the pile for the first time since FP2 in Abu Dhabi last December.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc put in a time on the C5 tyres as well but couldn’t improve on P6, behind Alfa Romeo and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Lance Stroll made up for lost time at Aston Martin in the afternoon, putting the AMR21 third-fastest in the final 10 minutes on day two. Red Bull opted not to run a soft tyre in the closing moments, making it one of the only teams to choose not to.

F1 testing day two final results

Position Driver Team Time Tyre
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1min 30.289sec C5 (Soft) 56
2 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1min 30.413sec C5 85
3 Lance Stroll Red Bull 1min 30.460sec C5 70
4 Lando Norris Williams 1min 30.586sec C4 (Soft) 52
5 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1min 30.760sec C5 125
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1min 30.886sec C5 73
7 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1min 31.672sec C4 132
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1min 31.682sec C2 (Hard) 117
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1min 32.215sec C3 (Med) 52
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1min 32.339sec C2 128
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1min 32.684sec C5 57
12 Mick Schumacher Haas 1min 32.833sec C4 87
13 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1min 33.072sec C4 56
14 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1min 33.101sec C4 76
15 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 33.399sec C2 58
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1min 38.849sec C3 Proto 8


2021 testing driver schedule: Saturday

Teams are running a single car, with most splitting the first day between team-mates. However, some drivers are being given a full day in the car, including Williams test driver Roy Nissany.

Below is the schedule for Friday.

Team Morning session Afternoon session
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas
Red Bull Sergio Perez Sergio Perez
McLaren Daniel Ricciardo Lando Norris
Aston Martin Sebastian Vettel Lance Stroll
Alpine Fernando Alonso Fernando Alonso
Ferrari Carlos Sainz Charles Leclerc
AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda Pierre Gasly
Alfa Romeo Antonio Giovinazzi Antonio Giovinazzi
Haas Nikita Mazepin Mick Schumacher
Williams Nicholas Latifi Nicholas Latifi

What time does testing start?

Saturday testing starts at 10am Bahrain time, 7am GMT, which is the same each day this weekend. It’s split into two sessions: the morning session runs for four hours until 2pm, 11am GMT.

After a break, the afternoon session starts at 3pm, 12pm GMT, which lasts for a further four hours.

Bahrain time zone

Local time in Bahrain is three hours ahead of GMT, so sessions start mid-morning local time and the testing day runs into the evening, ending at 7pm