Scott Mitchell: Topp 5 dag 2
The second day of testing in Bahrain is (when writing this) almost over and a cloudy picture is starting to form.
It’s clear that Red Bull is now widely regarded in the paddock as the early favourite already. Behind that the pecking order gets very difficult to predict.
What tends to be at least a little easier, though, is identifying who has a bit more work to do. No team will be entirely happy with what they have achieved so far (with the possible exception of Red Bull!) but here are some who need a better final day than others.
As we hinted at yesterday, McLaren has had a slow start to the test. Today it became clear it is on the back foot.
McLaren has missed some goals it set with the development of the MCL60, which is why it needs some early season upgrades. Unfortunately, it is obvious watching trackside McLaren still seems to have some of the same weaknesses from last year.
It does not look an easy car to drive and seems unpredictable based on how inconsistent it is on corner entry at low and high speed.
McLaren has been focused on long running, so there will be performance unlocked as it dives into more set-up work. But to be near the front of the midfield it needs a very productive final day.
Throughout the morning, Sergio Perez had multiple lock-ups into Turn 10, where he seemed to struggle to find the limit of the Red Bull.
But this is probably to be expected given Max Verstappen did a full day in the car on Thursday.
Perez only did half of Friday before handing over to Verstappen, who immediately set the fastest time of the day – a sign of how comfortable he has got in the car.
This run plan meant it was always going to be the case that Perez did his most important work on the last day of the test.
There should be no alarm bells ringing at the Renault works team but it has not had as productive a second day of testing as it would have liked.
A lot of teams scaled back their mileage on Friday, probably because day one featured so many checks. It just meant the running was skewed towards Thursday.
Even so, Alpine did not have a busy Friday on-track. Esteban Ocon admitted that set-up changes taking longer than hoped meant there was not as much morning running as planned.
This is a team that has set an ambitious target of closing the gap to top three this season but unless it has a more productive final day it risks going into next weekend underprepared.
Red Bull’s other team has produced a car that looks…inoffensive.
It has no stunningly good or bad traits trackside and it’s hard to determine whether or not that is a good thing.
Last year the AlphaTauri was noticeably poor at low speed, and it still needs to be improved now. But it seems to have made progress at higher speed.
Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda have been at the bottom of the times because they have not been chasing performance. That means Saturday will be important to work out where this team really is.
It’s looking increasingly likely that Formula 2 champion and Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich will replace Lance Stroll next week.
Fernando Alonso drove a full day on his own on Friday but Drugovich will be back in the car on Saturday morning. Alonso will then drive again in the afternoon.
It means a lop-sided split of running overall, with Alonso set to end the test with two days in the car and Drugovich just one.
As a rookie who might be about to make his F1 debut, he needs his last morning in the car to be a lot more beneficial than the first morning – as that was hampered by an electrical issue.
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