Magnussen leads Day 2 in Bahrain; Renault teams make strides

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A Mercedes-powered car led the way again in the second day of Formula One testing in Bahrain, and some of the teams that had issues on Wednesday got them, in part, sorted on Thursday.

Kevin Magnussen’s run of form this winter continued; the young Dane dropped the bar on times by a full two seconds compared to Wednesday’s best. Another run on Pirelli’s soft tires saw Magnussen’s McLaren MP4-29 down to 1:34.910.

Nico Hulkenberg, Wednesday’s pace-setter, improved his time by a few tenths in the Force India-Mercedes to 1:36.445, while Fernando Alonso found more than a second in his Ferrari at 1:36.516.

Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Williams fixed some of their issues on Thursday. Despite playing catch-up, Red Bull got by far its best day of the winter in on Thursday with Sebastian Vettel completing 59 laps. The sister Toro Rosso team, with Jean-Eric Vergne in for the first time this week, got 58 in.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas though was the lap-pounder of the day, with the team’s fuel system gremlins of Wednesday sent to the rear view mirror. The young Finn clocked in a day-high 116 laps and was within 2.4 seconds of the leading Mercedes-powered runners.

As has been the case in other tests, Mercedes teams still led the combined total lap chart, but all three manufacturers picked up on where they were on Wednesday (Mercedes 238, Ferrari 146, Renault 95). Here’s Thursday’s breakdown:

  • Mercedes: 306 (Magnussen 46, Hulkenberg 59, Nico Rosberg 85, Bottas 116)
  • Renault: 201 (Kamui Kobayashi 66, Vettel 59, Vergne 58, Romain Grosjean 18)
  • Ferrari: 169 (Alonso 97, Esteban Gutierrez 55, Max Chilton 17)

Renault had by far it’s most running overall, even despite installation issues preventing Lotus’ Romain Grosjean from doing much of anything. Pace runs will come later for the French manufacturer.

And here’s Thursday’s times:

1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m34.910s, 46 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m36.445s, 59
3. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m36.516s, 97
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m36.965s, 85
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes, 1m37.328s, 116
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham-Renault, 1m39.855s, 66
7. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1m40.340s, 59
8. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m40.609s, 58
9. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m40.717s, 55
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault, 1m41.670s, 18
11. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, 1m42.511s, 17

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.