Bottas puts Mercedes on top on Day 2 of Bahrain F1 test

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas led the way on the second day of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain, holding off AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly in a rapid afternoon session.

Bottas puts Mercedes on top on Day 2 of Bahrain F1 test
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The afternoon got off to a slow start in Sakhir, with most teams initially opting for longer runs.

Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi was the first driver to improve on his morning time, while Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and Gasly made their first appearance of the day.

Just under an hour into the afternoon session, Bottas took over the Mercedes W12 from Lewis Hamilton after being limited to six laps on Friday due to a gearbox failure.

Halfway into the session, laptimes started taking a tumble. Giovinazzi marked his 100th lap of the day with a 1m31.533 on softs to take first place, immediately overhauled by McLaren's Norris' 1m31.239s on the same compound.

Giovinazzi then improved to 1m31.323s to slot in just 0.084s behind the young Briton.

AlphaTauri driver Gasly jumped to third with a 1m31.683s on softs right before the first red flag of the afternoon came out.

With 1h20m to go, Sergio Perez' engine cover came off his Red Bull as he ducked out of the slipstream of Williams' Nicholas Latifi on the main straight, the cover disintegrating.

After a brief clean-up a flurry of activity saw the lead change hands several times. Giovinazzi went top with a 1m30.881s on soft Pirelli tyres, but Gasly instantly replied by going quicker still with a 1m30.825s on the same tyre compound.

Norris then lowered the benchmark to 1m30.586s, only for Gasly to return to the top of the timetable with a 1m30.413 on Pirelli's softest C5 compound.

Meanwhile, Bottas had been making inroads with a 1m31.245s on unmarked medium tyres followed by a 1m31.172s on softs.

In the final 30 minutes, Bottas took on C5 tyres, which first netted him a 1m30.460s before grabbing the lead from Gasly with a 1m30.289s.

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After a slow start on Friday, Mercedes got in a good number of laps on Day Two. Hamilton - who was 15th fastest overall - managed to complete 58 laps in the morning session despite losing time due to a spin, with Bottas bringing Mercedes' daily tally to 115 tours.

Stroll drove his Aston Martin, which had been parked in the garage for most of the morning with a gearbox issue, to third just 0.171 behind Bottas.

Norris' erstwhile leading time was good for fourth, while Giovinazzi secured fifth with a personal best of 1m30.760s on the softest compound.

With a new engine cover securely attached, Perez went back out and briefly demoted Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, but a better lap time from Leclerc on C5 tyres moved the Monegasque driver up to sixth.

Perez also had to yield seventh place to soft-shod Latifi, who had a highly productive day in the Williams FW43B which also included an innocent spin under braking for Turn 1.

Daniel Ricciardo's leading morning session time was good for ninth on the day in the McLaren.

On his first appearance since fracturing his jaw in a cycling accident, Fernando Alonso completed a trouble-free 128 laps for Alpine to round out the top 10, setting his best time before lunch.

AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was 11th after his morning stint followed by Schumacher, who had taken over the Haas from Nikita Mazepin in the afternoon.

Morning runner Carlos Sainz was 13th for Ferrari with Mazepin, Hamilton and Vettel at the bottom of the timesheets. Vettel's gearbox issues limited the German to just 10 laps in the Aston Martin AMR21.

A late red flag for system checks brought the penultimate day of winter testing to a close, with two more four-hour sessions to follow on Sunday.

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes 58 1'30.289
2 France Pierre Gasly
AlphaTauri 87 1'30.413 0.124
3 Canada Lance Stroll
Aston Martin 71 1'30.460 0.171
4 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren 52 1'30.586 0.297
5 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo 125 1'30.760 0.471
6 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari 73 1'30.886 0.597
7 Canada Nicholas Latifi
Williams 132 1'31.672 1.383
8 Mexico Sergio Perez
Red Bull 117 1'31.682 1.393
9 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
McLaren 52 1'32.215 1.926
10 Spain Fernando Alonso
Alpine 128 1'32.339 2.050
11 Japan Yuki Tsunoda
AlphaTauri 57 1'32.684 2.395
12 Germany Mick Schumacher
Haas 88 1'32.883 2.594
13 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
Ferrari 56 1'33.072 2.783
14 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin
Haas 76 1'33.101 2.812
15 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes 58 1'33.399 3.110
16 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Aston Martin 10 1'38.849 8.560
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