Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu may have surprised some by setting the fastest lap time of 1:31.610 on the second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain. The Chinese driver managed to top the leaderboard after driving 132 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit over the course of Friday, February 24.
Most other drivers were not afforded the same number of laps to break their new cars in, as almost every other team split their testing time between their two drivers, instead of giving one driver the car for the day.
Ferrari opted to give Carlos Sainz the morning shift, with which the Spaniard managed to set a sixth place time of 1:32.486 after 70 laps. Then it was the turn of Charles Leclerc who managed a slightly slower time of 1:32.725 to end up eighth-fastest at the end of an afternoon under the Sakhir sun.
Mercedes had an even slower day, as Lewis Hamilton managed P15 after 72 laps. His team mate and compatriot George Russell was looking faster until a hydraulic issue cut his practice short as the sun was setting, leaving the second Brit in a Benz to settle for P13 after 26 laps.
Red Bull had a much better day than their usual rivals, as Max Verstappen shot to second with his first flying effort of the day, before topping the leaderboard with a time of 1:31.650 less than half an hour later. By the end of the day, though, the Dutchman’s time was beaten by an unexpected competitor in the form of Zhou, who was 0.04 seconds faster than the reigning champion.
Pre-season action will continue for one more day, on Saturday, February 25. Thereafter, Formula 1 fanatics will not have long to look forward to the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 5 on the same circuit.
Featured image courtesy of @alfaromeof1 on Twitter: Zhou Guanyu preparing to exit the pits