F1 Bahrain Testing Day 2: Zhou nips Verstappen using super soft Pirellis

By Mark Cipolloni

Zhou Guanyu slapped on a set of super soft C5 Pirelli tires meant for street circuits and turned a ‘glory’ lap of 1m31.10s to just nip defending World Champion Max Verstappen by 0.040s as Day 2 of preseason F1 testing came to an end in Bahrain.

However, Verstappen never made a low fuel soft tire qualifying simulation run, and it was clear he was easily fastest comparing apples to apples.

Verstappen went out early in the PM session of the 2nd day of preseason testing in Bahrain and within a few laps he blew everyone of out of the water on medium tires with a lap of 1m31.650s in his #1 Red Bull Honda.

Verstappen time was 0.8s faster than everyone else at the time.

He then sat out most of the session, but went out late to put some long runs in with heavy fuel, and once again his long run pace was far better than anyone else.

World Driving Champion Max Verstappen laps in the Red Bull RB19 ominously fast on long runs on the C3 Pirelli tires, which will be the soft tires for next weekend’s race.

Zhou said while the team was aware it was just testing and “everyone is trying different settings” seeing his name and that of the team “up there in the timing sheets” was a good feeling.

“It’s been a positive day overall, we got more mileage in and went through all the targets and tasks we had set for ourselves, so I can say I am happy,” the 23-year-old said.

“The car felt reasonably good, both in daytime and night-time conditions, and I felt more confident pushing as the day progressed.”

“Today was the final day of preseason testing for me, and I am very much looking forward to the start of the season next week. I feel ready and excited about the new campaign and I can’t wait to be racing again,” Zhou said.

Fernando Alonso was 3rd quick in the much improved Aston Martin, 0.555s seconds behind Verstappen on the same C3 tires and 0.595s behind the Alfa Romeo.

Nick De Vries was 0.612s behind Zhou Guanyu, and he was also on the softest C5 Pirellis, so rather ominous.

Nico Hilkenberg rounded out the top-5 for Haas running the C4 tire, which will not be used next weekend.

George Russell brought out the only red-flag when his Mercedes ground to a halt out on the track with a hydraulic problem.

Bahrain Final Preseason Times Day 2

1 Zhou Guanyu CHN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake 1m31.610s 133 C5 Super Soft
2 Max Verstappen NED Oracle Red Bull Racing 1m31.650s 47 C3 Medium
3 Fernando Alonso ESP Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team 1m32.205s 130 C3 Medium
4 Nyck de Vries NED Scuderia AlphaTauri 1m32.222s 74 C4 Soft
5 Nico Hulkenberg GER MoneyGram Haas F1 Team 1m32.466s 68 C4 Soft
6 Carlos Sainz ESP Scuderia Ferrari 1m32.486s 70 C3 Medium
7 Logan Sargeant USA Williams Racing 1m32.549s 154 C5 Super Soft
8 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari 1m32.725s 68 C3 Medium
9 Oscar Piastri AUS McLaren F1 Team 1m33.175s 74 C3 Medium
10 Pierre Gasly FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team 1m33.186s 59 C3 Medium
11 Kevin Magnussen DEN MoneyGram Haas F1 Team 1m33.442s 67 C3 Medium
12 Esteban Ocon FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team 1m33.490s 49 C3 Medium
13 George Russell GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 1m33.654s 26 C3 Medium
14 Sergio Perez MEX Oracle Red Bull Racing 1m33.751s 76 Prototype
15 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 1m33.954s 72 C3 Medium
16 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team 1m35.522s 65 C2 Medium
17 Yuki Tsunoda JPN Scuderia AlphaTauri 1m35.708s 85 C2 Medium