McLaren Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo topped a second successive morning session in pre-season testing in Bahrain, as Lewis Hamilton suffered a spin that caused a red-flag stoppage.
On the heels of what was a clearly under-par opening day of pre-season testing for the usually-dominant Mercedes team, Hamilton kept the lap count ticking over at a steady pace from the start of the day.
But he spun at the Turn 13 right-hander at relatively low speed soon after the halfway point and his W12 slid through the asphalt run-off rear-first, before ending up beached in the gravel trap.
This necessitated a 15-minute red flag for the Mercedes to be removed.
Hamilton’s spin came right after a pair of more violent-looking moments for both the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr and the Williams of Nicholas Latifi at Turn 7.
Sainz had a half-spin but held on to the car through the run-off, while Latifi went around on the kerb on corner exit and was forced to crawl back to the pits with a shredded front-right tyre.
Outside of that brief period, the session largely elapsed without incident, with Ricciardo and the returning Fernando Alonso swapping first place on several occasions.
Ricciardo’s 1m32.215s on C3s eventually proved sufficient to keep him in the top spot until the chequered flag, with Alonso a tenth slower on C2s – yet being unable to match that time on C3s when he fitted them later.
Also on C2s and just a quarter of a second down on Ricciardo was Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, while Latifi and Yuki Tsunoda (both using C4s) completed a top five split by just 0.469s.
Latifi also gave the softest compound, C5, a brief runout, but his push lap on the tyre was ruined by an error at Turn 11.
Sainz and Haas driver Nikita Mazepin were the only others within a second of Ricciardo, with Sainz’s time coming on the C3s and Mazepin’s on the C4s.
Hamilton did return to the track soon after the red flag he’d caused was lifted, and ended the session in eighth place with a best time set on C2 tyres. Despite the off, his overall morning tally of 58 laps was already more than Mercedes had managed as a whole on Friday.
But it was one of Mercedes’ engine customers – Aston Martin – that came up well short of running in the session instead. Sebastian Vettel managed just six early laps before returning to the pits and being kept there for most of the session by a “gearbox-related” issue.
He did return to the track in the very final minutes, setting a personal best first sector on his first flying lap on C3s, before going wide at Turn 11 and then having the red flag come out for an FIA test.
This meant he ended the session in last place, 6.6s off the pace and nearly three seconds down on the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian focused entirely on race running in the session and logged 73 laps – the second-highest tally in the field, fewer only than Mazepin’s 76.
SATURDAY AM TIMES
1 Ricciardo (McLaren) 1m32.215s
2 Alonso (Alpine) 1m32.339s
3 Perez (Red Bull) 1m32.478s
4 Latifi (Williams) 1m32.541s
5 Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) 1m32.684s
6 Sainz (Ferrari) 1m33.072s
7 Mazepin (Haas) 1m33.101s
8 Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m33.399s
9 Giovinazzi (AlfaRomeo) 1m36.018s
10 Vettel (Aston Martin) 1m38.849s