Kevin Magnussen used the extra time allocated to Haas to beat Carlos Sainz to the fastest time of the penultimate day of Formula 1 testing in Bahrain, while Mercedes struggled with the handling of its updated car.
Haas is allowed to run an extra hour on Friday night before starting testing one hour early on the final day and running two hours later in order to make up for the four hours lost on day one due to its Formula 1-arranged freight arriving late. Magnussen had already been within a second of the fastest time on his first outing in an F1 car in over a year when he went 0.3s faster than the rest of the field had managed during the official running on the C4 compound.
Ferrari has looked in good shape throughout pre-season and has regularly featured near the top of the times, but even against that backdrop it still appeared to stretch its legs a little more on Friday evening. Sainz was already quickest on the C3 compound tire – the middle of the Pirelli range – before using the softer C4 to post a 1m33.532s to go half a second clear of the rest of the field until Magnussen’s late laps.
There was a form of comparison possible too, with Max Verstappen in third and Lance Stroll in fourth both also using the C4 under the lights late in the day to post their quickest times. Verstappen ran slightly wide at the final corner on his best lap but hadn’t looked a threat to Sainz before that, and his total of 86 laps on a disjointed day was not the most productive he’s ever had.
Things appeared worse for Lewis Hamilton, though, who had gone quickest using the softest tire compounds late in the Barcelona test. Similar afternoon running on the C4 and C5 Pirellis here did not yield a lap time to challenge Sainz, as Hamilton was 0.6s off the pace, but of more concern was that the car appeared to be a handful and suffered from porpoising down the pit straight.
Hamilton just edged out Esteban Ocon, who had been quickest at lunchtime and enjoyed a much more encouraging day for Alpine. The French constructor has struggled throughout testing so far, but despite an unplanned stoppage in the afternoon Ocon still completed 111 laps.
His problem was one of a number of red flags, the first of which was caused by Nicholas Latifi who suffered a rear brake failure and then brake fire. Latifi spun into the run-off area at Turn 12 as a result and the fire quickly escalated, leading to too much damage for the team to run again and capping Williams’ running at 12 laps.
Some of the interruptions were planned, as two race restart tests were carried out at the end of each session, but both of those tests during the morning’s running were sandwiched by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas stopping on track. For Vettel the issue was instantly rectified and he got straight back out on track to end up ninth quickest, but a hydraulic leak ended Bottas’ running after just 25 laps.
Bottas ended up between two drivers who had contrasting days, with Yuki Tsunoda marginally quicker – albeit over three seconds off the overall pace – and completing 120 laps, while Mick Schumacher’s first running of the week yielded just 23 laps after he suffered hydraulic and exhaust issues.
At McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo showed signs of recovery from illness but was still too unwell to drive, leaving Lando Norris with a second full day in the car. Norris was eighth fastest but managed just 60 laps as the team struggled with brake cooling problems, and there was also a stoppage at the pit exit in the afternoon to add to the frustration.