George Russell was fastest on the second day of in-season F1 testing in Bahrain, while Mick Schumacher switched to Alfa Romeo to continue building experience.
Williams driver Russell was being used by Mercedes on Wednesday in order to take advantage of his status as a rookie driver who has not started more than two races. A productive day ended with him completing 101 laps, and with less than 10 minutes remaining he posted a 1m29.029s to edge out Sergio Perez by 0.066s.
Russell posted two laps that would have been good enough for top spot – his last attempt being 0.005s off his best – but it was a small gap to the Racing Point, with both drivers using Pirelli’s softest C5 tire.
Perez shared duties with Lance Stroll on Wednesday, with Racing Point looking to learn more about the update package it had brought to Australia and supplemented with smaller parts in Bahrain. After Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, team principal Otmar Szafnauer said there was about half of the update’s performance still to be unlocked, and Perez’s lap times suggest that the team made progress.
Sebastian Vettel was fastest for much of the day in his Ferrari, but had to settle for third-quickest after being shuffled down by Russell and Perez late on. Vettel, who struggled with his car’s balance during the race weekend, used the C3 compound in the middle of the Pirelli range to set his best lap, however, and was just 0.289s off Russell.
Fourth was Carlos Sainz, who drove two different McLarens during Wednesday’s running. After starting in the Pirelli-run car being used for tire testing, Sainz handed that over to Fernando Alonso for the afternoon session and then took over from Lando Norris in the main car. Completing 21 laps in the final two hours, Sainz posted a 1m29.795, also on the C3 tire, to finish a little over 0.1s ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who was doing Pirelli work in the Toro Rosso.
Sixth was Mick Schumacher, who swapped from Ferrari to Alfa Romeo for the final day of the test. Schumacher had been second-fastest on Tuesday and added 70 laps to his total from the week, getting within a second of Russell’s time on the same tire during some afternoon performance runs.
Rain disrupted Tuesday’s running but there were no such delays on Wednesday, and Alexander Albon made the most of the conditions to amass143 laps. Albon was seventh-quickest overall, 0.039s slower than Schumacher on the slightly harder C4 compound.
Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum made his debut for the team after taking over from Max Verstappen and enjoyed a smooth day, completing 134 laps in the Honda-powered RB15. Ticktum edged out Romain Grosjean for ninth-fastest, with the Frenchman taking over from Pietro Fittipaldi in the afternoon session while Haas continued to analyze why it struggled during last weekend’s race.
Alonso’s afternoon of tire testing resulted in a further 69 laps completed, although he was only 11th-fastest and nearly two seconds off the pace despite a short run that saw him improve late in the day.
A number of drivers broke the 100-lap barrier, and two of those were Jack Aitken in the Renault and Nicholas Latifi in the Williams. Latifi was finally getting his first taste of the 2019 car after having losing pre-season track time due to delays with the car build, and the Canadian was quicker than both Russell and Robert Kubica had been on Tuesday, albeit on a softer compound tire.