Bottas takes Mercedes back to the top while four drivers join the 100 lap club

The second day of testing ahead of the 2021 Formula One season is over and it was Valterri Bottas who took Mercedes back to the top of the timing screens with a time of 1:30.289. He set this time during the afternoon session, but before lunch, it was Daniel Ricciardo who set the fastest time but ended it in 9th place with a 1:32.215 lap time around the Bahrain International Circuit.

The two-time F1 World Champion was the driver of the morning for me, after putting in 58 laps in the morning session when he is still recovering from a broken jaw and he will need titanium plates in for this season to help him compete in every race. In the afternoon session, he completed a further 128 laps during the afternoon session.

Ricciardo and Alonso traded places at the top of the standings all morning and they are starting to show the potential of their cars, which may expect to be at the front of the midfield, if not challenging Red Bull and Mercedes for podiums this season.

I need to put in the usual testing disclaimer that this is nothing more than testing and we do not know exactly the set-ups and the fuel loads that each team were running.

Sergio Perez also got to test his Red Bull for the first time and completed 39 laps in the morning session to set the third-fastest time, 0.263 seconds behind Ricciardo. He then completed a further 78 laps after lunch.

Lewis Hamilton brought out the red flag after spinning at turn 13 and getting his W12 stuck in the gravel while Sebastian Vettel only managed eight laps after a gearbox problem kept him in the pits for the majority of the session.

Nikita Mazepin won the award for the craziest moment of the day after almost crashing into the back of Antonio Giovinazzi before having to quickly slam on the brakes which caused the back end of the car to go loose and he almost lost control of the car. He has finally learned that F1 lose downforce when they get close to the car in front.

Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda and Carlos Sainz also took part in the morning session, with Latifi also driving in the afternoon.

The afternoon session got off to a quiet start with nobody leaving the pits for around ten minutes. Nobody set the timing screens alive for the first two hours, with Giovanazzi moving up to fourth being the only exception.

Mercedes took an hour to get back out on the track, the same as yesterday, but this time it was Bottas taking the W12 out of the garage and he had plenty of laps to catch up on after only getting six laps in yesterday.

Four drivers were welcomed into the 100 lap club today, with Giovinazzi, Latifi, Alonso and Perez all making use of their full day in the car. Perez however brought out a red flag after his engine cover blew off and the broken pieces scattered across the pit straight.

As the clock ticked down to one hour to go, the soft tyres came out and the fastest times started to fall. Norris and Gasly traded fastest lap times for the majority of the final hour, giving fans some late entertainment after what was a fairly straightforward day of testing, but it was Bottas and his W12 than took the honours when the planned red flag came out five minutes before the end of the session.