Fernando Alonso confirmed fears in the paddock over Aston Martin’s potential by setting the fastest time in the second free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Spaniard was ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez.
The Aston Martin threat seems bet and very real. On the sidelines of pre-season testing, many voices in the paddock said that the Silverstone-based team should be counted on to compete for the podium at the start of the season. Fernando Alonso’s performance during the second free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix this Friday confirms that we will have to rely on the single-seaters sporting the “British Racing Green”.
While Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz Jr then Charles Leclerc, quickly took the lead during the first laps on soft tyres, Valtteri Bottas took time between the two Maranello single-seaters with his Alfa Romeo. It was then Nico Hülkenberg who gave everything on one lap to settle at the top of the time sheet… immediately dislodged by Sergio Pérez, eager to repeat his performance from the start of the day. It was then that Fernando Alonso made his effort in a simulation of a flying lap in qualifying.
Alonso hit hard
At the wheel of his Aston Martin, the Spaniard slammed a lap in 1’30”907, removing 171 thousandths from the benchmark previously established by the Mexican. In the aftermath, Max Verstappen invited himself to the party but, if he regained a little more than a tenth of a second in the second sector, the Dutchman lost too much in the other two and failed 169 thousandths from Fernando Alonso, ahead of his teammate by only two thousandths.
Charles Leclerc, for his part, finally had to settle for fourth time with a delay approaching half a second vis-à-vis Aston Martin. The Monegasque only leads Nico Hülkenberg in the final by nine thousandths in conditions similar to those planned for the qualifying session this Saturday on the Sakhir circuit. While the first thirteen are less than a second from the best time, Pierre Gasly has hoisted his Alpine to seventh place, just behind Lance Stroll.
Alpine in the middle of the table
The Canadian could not hide being handicapped by the consequences of one of his fractured wrists, not being able to follow the requests of his engineer as to how to approach the first corner to maximize the exit of the second. In addition, the Aston Martin driver must push with his left hand on the steering wheel to turn it as far as possible. Esteban Ocon, meanwhile, took eleventh place three hundredths behind Guanyu Zhou, who completed the Top 10.
While Lewis Hamilton warned that this weekend could be complicated for Mercedes, the Briton set the eighth time by six tenths when his teammate George Russell could not do better than the thirteenth time, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. Spaniard thus confirmed his difficulties at the wheel of the Ferrari. The teams will now study the data from these first two free practice sessions in order to better prepare for Saturday, which promises to be crucial for the Grand Prix.