Force India returnee Nico Hulkenberg led the way as the second of three pre-season tests got underway today at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The first day of testing got off to a slow start due to a shortage of marshals which delayed the start time. The shortened day eventually got underway but not for long as Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari ejected a cloud of smoke and prompted a red flag. Nonetheless the Spaniard’s car returned to the paddock under its own steam and was soon back on track as the green flag flew again.
Ferrari weren’t the only team prompting a red flag with Toro Rosso suffering an oil leak in the morning. The car, piloted by the team’s rookie Daniil Kvyat, was stitched up and sent back out on track before breaking down in the afternoon and causing another stoppage. Red Bull’s woes continued when Sebastian Vettel ground to a halt in the latter part of the day as his RB10 was smoking. Vettel took matters into his own hands, grabbing a fire extinguisher and spraying the rear of the car before beginning his trek back to the drawing board.
His countryman, Nico Hulkenberg, was on the other end of the spectrum however, with the smoothest running of any team today – no spins, no failures, no spontaneous combustions. His 78 lap run was as smooth as a fresh Pirelli and his fastest time of 1.36.880 put him firmly 0.999s clear of Alonso who completed 74 laps en route to second in the timesheets. Williams, who set the benchmark in the opening test, were robbed of their smooth sailing when a fuel system problem restricted Felipe Massa’s track time to a mere five laps. He finished the day tenth overall with no lap time recorded.
Another man who failed to set a lap time was Jules Bianchi in the Marussia who set three installation laps (exiting the pits, circling the circuit and re-entering the pits before crossing the start/finish straight) amid an IT configuration issue. Marussia’s rivals Caterham had a much more productive day with their Dutch driver Robin Frijns completing 68 laps of the Bahraini circuit and setting a lap time almost five seconds shy of Hulkenberg’s table-topping lap.
Adrian Sutil spun his Sauber en route to sixth overall; the German’s tally of 82 laps being the highest lap count of all drivers today – one lap more than Danish rookie Kevin Magussen set for McLaren which left him fourth at the end of day one. Hamilton, who drove for McLaren between 2007 and 2012, was third after clocking up 74 laps. His time was marginally slower than that of Fernando Alonso.
Testing resumes tomorrow and will run until Saturday. The season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16th – only three and a half weeks away. Not that anyone is keeping count or anything…
Here’s today’s results:
|Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1.36.880||78 laps|
|Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||1.37.879||64 laps|
|Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1.37.908||74 laps|
|Kevin Magnussen||McLaren||1.38.295||81 laps|
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1.40.224||14 laps|
|Adrian Sutil||Sauber||1.40.443||82 laps|
|Robin Frijns||Caterham||1.42.590||68 laps|
|Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1.44.346||5 laps|
|Romain Grosjean||Lotus||1.44.832||8 laps|
|Felipe Massa||Williams||—||5 laps|
|Jules Bianchi||Marussia||—||3 laps|