Valtteri Bottas set the pace as Mercedes hit the top of the timesheets for the first time on the second day of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain.

The Finn strapped on a set of the C5 Soft tyres late on to post the fastest time of testing so far with a 1m30.289s as Mercedes began to recover from a disappointing start to pre-season testing.

After seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton lost more mileage following a spin in the morning, Bottas took over behind the wheel of Mercedes’ W12 and teased the first glimpse of its pace by running on the Soft tyres in the last hour.

Bottas’ benchmark time was 0.124s faster than what AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly managed on the same compound, with Lance Stroll - also running C5s - third for Aston Martin.

Lando Norris continued McLaren’s fine start to pre-season testing in fourth place, setting a time within three-tenths of Bottas’ session-leading time on the C4 compound.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi also strapped on a set of Pirelli’s softest compound on his way to finishing fifth, a tenth clear of Charles Leclerc’s soft-shod works Ferrari.

Nicholas Latifi was seventh in his Williams as he logged the most laps of anyone (132), while Sergio Perez caused a bizarre red flag when his engine cover exploded as he pulled out to overtake Latifi along the main straight.

The Mexican returned to action for Red Bull but stuck exclusively to the Hard C2 compound as he took P8, ahead of morning pacesetter Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and returning two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who was 10th on his first outing in Alpine’s new-look A521.




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