Cut To The Race Podcast

FP2 Results are in… and it’s a fan favourite in P1

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With Pierre Gasly storming his way to the fastest lap of FP1, it’s time to see who topped the leader board in FP2.

Max Verstappen went quickest on the Soft Tyre, closely followed by Charle Leclerc. Carlos Sainz rounded up the podium positions finishing in P3

The desert night sets the perfect scene for the first FP2 of the year. For Bahrain, FP2 is the best chance to run your car in similar conditions to Sunday’s race as the light is the same for the drivers, the temperature is more representative of what it will be like on Sunday and the wind will be similar.

Main Takeaways

Max Verstappen went quickest with a “1.31.936”. Charles Leclerc was hot on his heels. FP2 is always a guessing game with drivers on different programs but Perez was considerably far behind his teammate finishing in P7.

Tonight’s session was chilly due to the low temperature in the desert and the wind. Not only did the wind make it chilly but it also gave the drivers a challenge in trying to navigate the crosswinds at different parts of the track, Turn 4 in particular.

Throughout the session, it was reported that the major bouncing and oscillations that we saw in Bahrain testing, notably during Pierre Gasly’s fastest lap on day 1, are still evident. Lewis Hamilton complained about the bouncing. Riding onboard with Hamilton, the bouncing was clear just by looking (and listening as you could hear the floor moving).

Another major story from Bahrain testing was McLaren’s brake ducts and how their temperature regulation systems were failing. McLaren did suffer a major lock-up. The lock-up was so major that the car disappeared as the smoke the lock-up created covered it entirely.

Talking about lock-ups, Mick Schumacher (no longer a rookie) had a major lock up into Turn 1, already flat-spotting his front tyres.

As we know, Bottas had a very rough FP1 with engine issues. Luckily for him, and us, his engine has been fixed and he completed many more laps than his 2 laps in FP1.

There was more bad news for McLaren as Daniel Ricciardo’s car had a water leak which meant there was a premature end to the Aussie’s FP2.

Lewis, towards the end of the session, did report on front-brake issues. As we know, Mercedes could be sandbagging and downplaying the abilities of their car but could these issues be real? We will only find out during Saturday Qualifying and during Sunday’s race.

Flags and Finger-pointing

An issue between Yuki Tsunoda and Charles Leclerc was “noted” by the stewards. There were obviously no blue flags but Tsunoda but the steward decided to “note” and decide whether Yuki got in Charles’ way through Turn 8.

Another issue with Yuki Tsunoda seems to be that he touched Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, again in Turn 8. Tsunoda looked to be trying to move down the inside line before backing out. However, this “back-out” led to Yuki’s front wing having a bit of a bash with Stroll’s car.

Tyres and Times

At the start of the session, most of the drivers were out on medium compound tyres, except for the McLarens who started their runs on the hard tyre compound.

About 1/3 of the way through the session, the mainly “Hard-Tyre” grid changed. Ocon, Stroll, Magnussen and Latifi were some of the first to put on their soft tyres. The soft tyres allowed the first few to run some qualifying simulations (good practice for tomorrow). Kevin Magnussen’s switch to softs put him in P2 (not a bad return to the sport).

The change to softs became more popular about halfway through the session with Norris , Schumacher and Alonso following suit. Despite these changes to softs, the two Ferrari’s remained on the Medium and stayed in 2nd and 3rd (despite others on the softs).

3rd wasn’t good enough for Leclerc who switched to the soft around the 27th minute, who then when fastest (of course).

At bang on 30 minutes (halfway), all drivers were on softs except for the two Mercedes boys. These softs allowed reigning world-champion, Max Verstappen, to FINALLY reach the “1.31s”. Max set a soft-tyre time of 1.31.936.

10 minutes later and the time still wasn’t beaten, this could have been because Max’s main challenger from last year (Lewis) was reporting front brake issues, especially on the front right. In the words of Lewis, oh “man”.

With the two Mercedes fuelling up at minute 41, it was unlikely Max was going to be beaten as the Russell and Hamilton prepared for longer runs.

The two Ferraris, on the other hand, posed a great challenge to Verstappen. Charles Leclerc remained in P2 (only 0.087 behind Verstappen) for what seemed like forever. Sadly for Charles, he couldn’t seem to beat Max’s super time.

In the last 15 minutes of the session, everyone was on softs. How these soft tyres act in the cool desert chill is very important for qualifying. As the Q2 tyre rule has been removed, it is very likely that all cars will be on softs to try and maximise qualifying performance.

Main Questions

  • Are Mercedes Sandbagging?
  • Will the teams get the oscillations under control?
  • Who’s going to put it on pole tomorrow? Will it be Leclerc or Verstappen? Or someone else?

Feature Image: F1 on Twitter

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