F1 Testing Day Two AM: Lewis Hamilton beaches Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo fastest from Fernando Alonso
More strong running and lap times in Bahrain for McLaren and Alpine, with new respective signings Daniel Ricciardo and the returning Fernando Alonso; Mercedes start to claw back mileage but Lewis Hamilton spins into gravel
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 13/03/21 12:10pm
McLaren's new star signing Daniel Ricciardo continued the promising start his team have made to F1 2021 by again topping the morning session at Bahrain testing on Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton beached his Mercedes with a rare spin into the gravel mid-way through the session but it proved only a brief setback as the world champions soon returned to track to complete 58 laps - already 10 more than they managed in the whole of Friday.
But they remain bottom of the mileage charts at the mid-point of F1's shortened pre-season programme. Hamilton, who spun after just switching to faster medium tyres, was eighth fastest.
- F1 Testing: Latest driver and team stats from Bahrain
- Lewis Hamilton reflects on 'difficult' start to F1 2021
- LIVE: Follow the afternoon session in the blog
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A gearbox change and general car handling issues on Friday had led Mercedes to admit they had made a "poor start" to the three-day test with their new W12 car.
The opposite has been true for the world champions' latest engine customers, McLaren, who appear to have made a successful return to Mercedes power and integrated Ricciardo into this year's MCL35M car.
Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, made his full return to F1 action on Saturday morning after two seasons away and immediately ran competitively, completing 60 laps for his first outing in Alpine's striking A521.
The 39-year-old Spaniard revealed on Friday that he would have to race all season with two titanium plates in his jaw after breaking it and undergoing surgery in a cycling accident in Switzerland just four weeks ago.
Watching from trackside, Sky F1's Karun Chandhok said: "Fernando Alonso has been metronomic, lap after lap. I think you could put a pound coin on his turning point into the apex and his exit, and he'd hit it every single lap. It is incredible."
Sergio Perez was another debutant for a new team, with the Mexican finishing fourth fastest in Red Bull's RB16B.
Nicholas Latifi was fourth for Williams, with AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda fifth fastest.
But the Aston Martin team hit gearbox trouble and Sebastian Vettel was restricted to just nine laps.
With Lance Stroll scheduled to take over the car for the afternoon, four-time champion Vettel now has just four hours of track time left to prepare for the season-opening Bahrain GP for his new team on March 26-28.
Aston Martin also experienced electrical problems with their new car on Friday.
Conditions continue to prove tricky for drivers around the sweeping Sakhir track, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Latifi joining Hamilton in spinning off the circuit during the opening four hours.
Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin completed the most laps of anyone in the session with 76.
Enjoyed my time track side today : Mercedes look like they’re coming back into the performance window, Red Bull looks v good, Alpine with Alonso also looks very stable and impressive on corner entry to medium / slow speed corners, Sainz looked like the car was heavy with fuel... pic.twitter.com/ZggVSzM5YM— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) March 13, 2021
Saturday's testing action resumes at 12pm GMT, live on Sky Sports F1 and in the online blog.
Bahrain Testing: Day Two morning timesheet
1. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1:32.215, 52 laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +0.124, 60 laps
3. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +0.263, 39 laps
4. Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +0.326, 47 laps
5. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, +0.469, 57 laps
6. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +0.857, 56 laps
7. Nikita Mazepin, Haas, +0.886, 76 laps
8. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +1.184, 58 laps
9. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, +3.803, 73 laps
10. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +6.634, 10 laps