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F1 – Zhou quickest ahead of Verstappen as Mercedes hit trouble on day two of testing

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Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu set the fastest time of the second day of Formula 1’s pre-season test in Bahrain, with the Chinese driver edging out defending world champion Max Verstappen by four hundredths of a second. There was trouble for Mercedes, however, as George Russell was forced to stop at the side of the track with hydraulic problems.

Verstappen, who ran both sessions in the Red Bull Racing B19 yesterday, handed over driving duties to team-mate Sergio Pérez in day two’s morning session, but after Carlos Sainz claimed top spot in the morning, Verstappen was soon back on top in the afternoon, using C3 tyres to set a time of 1:31.650. 

The stood until late in the session when Zhou emerged on the softest C5 Pirelli tyres and nudged Verstappen out of P1 thanks to a lap of 1:31.610. With the final minutes of the session given over to practice starts and VSC procedures, Zhoou ended the day quickest by 0.040s. 

George Russell missed all the late action, however. The Mercedes driver pulled up midway through the afternoon session with his W14 stuck in fourth gear. Russell had posted 26 laps ahead of his stoppage and Mercedes ended the day with a total of 98 following a solid outing for team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the morning. 

After taking second spot on the timesheet on day one, Fernando Alonso continued Aston Martin’s impressive start to 2023 with third place. The Spaniard set a best time of 1:32.205, some five tenths off Verstappen, on the same compound used by the champion. Alonso also posted a strong solo total of 130 laps as he drove both sessions. 

Full-season rookie Nyck de Vries finished in fourth place overall, though the Dutchman used the C4 tyres to run to a best time of 1:32.222, just under two hundredths off C3 runner Alonso. De Vries’ team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, meanwhile, propped up the timesheet as he undertook long runs in the morning on harder tyres. 

Haas enjoyed a good day at the office with F1 returnee Nico Hulkenberg ion P5 thanks to C4 tyres, ahead of Sainz who finished sixth overall for Ferrari.

Logan Sargeant put in the day’s biggest lap count, with the Williams rookie getting through 154 laps of the 5.4km course, and he finished seventh ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who focused his afternoon on long runs.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri took ninth ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen, while Esteban Ocon was 13th in the other Alpine. 

Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Bahrain, Day Two 
1 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 133 1:31.610 
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 47 1:31.650 0.040
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 130 1:32.205 0.595
4 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 74 1:32.222 0.612
5 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 68 1:32.466 0.856
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 70 1:32.486 0.876
7 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 154 1:32.549 0.939
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 68 1:32.725 1.115
9 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 74 1:33.175 1.565
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 59 1:33.186 1.576
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 67 1:33.442 1.832
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 49 1:33.490 1.880
13 George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 26 1:33.654 2.044
14 Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 76 1:33.751 2.141
15 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 72 1:33.954 2.344
16 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 65 1:35.522 3.912
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 85 1:35.708 4.098