Formula 1 Preseason Testing: 6 Observations from Day 2 at Bahrain

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2014

Formula 1 Preseason Testing: 6 Observations from Day 2 at Bahrain

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    The second day of the third Formula One preseason test at Bahrain brought with it some wonderful news.

    The almost universally loathed double points plan will not be extended to cover the final three races. The F1 Strategy Group voted against the plans, meaning only the final race will be affected.

    Meanwhile, on the track, time is running out for the teams to fix their problems and get their cars ready for the first race of the season.

    With 10 days of testing now behind us, only two remain.

    Here's what stood out on the second day. 

Ferrari Catch the Eye

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    The F14 T has apparently been taking lessons from the F14 D, hanging around under the radar and quietly getting on with whatever mission its masters sent it on.

    However, on Day 2, Ferrari really stood out for the first time in 2014.

    Fernando Alonso's best time of one minute and 35.634 seconds was almost a second quicker than anything the Italian team had done before today.

    He also clocked up an impressive 122 laps.

    Meanwhile, Ferrari have edged ahead of Red Bull in the constructors' championship betting (via Oddschecker).

    Now all we need is a proper qualifying simulation.

Force India Do the Double

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    Sergio Perez set the fastest time on the first day and followed it up with another timesheet-topping display today.

    His best lap of 1:35.570 was set in the morning, and while a few drivers came close, it was never bettered. The Mexican also exceeded 100 laps for the second day in a row.

    Force India's lap count lagged behind their fellow Mercedes-powered teams at the second test, but they're making up for it at the third.

    It's looking increasingly likely that Perez and teammate Nico Hulkenberg will start the season with a very formidable car.

Lotus Promise Evaporating

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    Lotus ended the first Bahrain test on a positive note. Positive for a Renault-engined car, anyway.

    Today it became evident they're not doing that well at all. Whatever promise they showed has all but vanished.

    Pastor Maldonado's car stopped out on the circuit after completing 31 laps. The team said on Twitter that a fire was the cause, and it ended their day's running.

    Cracked exhaust one day, fire the next. All is not well with the E22. 

A Little Progress at Red Bull

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    Today's RB10 featured some hastily cut emergency cooling vents at the base of the sidepods (seen here in a photo by Auto Motor Und Sport).

    Did they help? Not at first.

    Daniel Ricciardo spent most of the day in the pit lane watching the world go by. When he did go out, it was only for a few laps at a time.

    It appeared the reigning world champions had given up on trying to do long runsor were trying to do them and failing.

    In the last hour, they finally got it together. Ricciardo's last run was over 20 laps in length, which is a new personal best for the team.

    The Australian's best lap of 1:35.743 was good enough for third on the day—around two-tenths down on Perez's best. 

Caterham Have Added "Unreliable" to "Slow"

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    At the second test, it became apparent the Caterham was somewhat sluggish.

    However, what it lacked in speed it made up for in laps completed. Caterham did only 70 laps fewer than the most prolific team (Williams) and almost twice as many as the next-best Renault-powered runner.

    Now it seems they've also succumbed to the curse of the Energy F1.

    The CT04 managed only 54 laps, with Marcus Ericsson's session ending when the car caught fire on an out lap late in the day (picture here), as reported on the Sky Sports live testing blog.

    Unreliable, slow and uglyCaterham's very own unholy trinity. A couple of good days are badly needed. 

A Reminder the Mercedes Powertrain Isn't Bulletproof

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    Like all the Mercedes runners, McLaren have had a very positive winter.

    Today, they encountered a rare problem. A loss of drive in the morning interrupted Jenson Button's day, and it took the team almost five hours to get the MP4-29 back out on track. He ended up on 52 laps.

    Over at the Mercedes team, Lewis Hamilton managed 89 laps before a gearbox issue ended his running.

    It's clear the Mercedes-powered teams have a greater chance of finishing the first race in Melbourne than the Renault chaps, but today's events were a timely reminder that even they are vulnerable to reliability issues.

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