At Bahrain GP second practise, Alonso dazzles under the spotlights

In Friday evening’s second practice at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso dazzled under the lights to set the best time for Aston Martin ahead of Red Bull’s defending double world champion Max Verstappen.

The 41-year-old Spaniard outpaced the Dutchman by 0.169 seconds with a best lap time of one minute and 30.907 seconds. He drove with the same enthusiasm as a man half his age.

In the second Red Bull, Sergio Perez finished third, just 0.002 seconds behind his teammate, six tenths ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, ahead of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Aston Martin

On his first day with the Alpine team, Pierre Gasly finished seventh, ahead of seven-time champion Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, McLaren driver Lando Norris, and Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu.

In his first race with Aston Martin since moving from Alpine to replace retired four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, Alonso confirmed the widespread opinion in the paddock that his new team will pose a threat to the established top teams with a significantly improved vehicle.

The second “sunset” session started in cooler weather than the first practice, when Perez set the fastest time for Red Bull. Stroll led the way out of the pitlane in his Aston Martin with the floodlights on.

The temperature of the air had dropped from 25 degrees to 22 degrees, and the temperature of the track had dropped from 40 degrees to 27 degrees, allowing for a general use of soft slick tyres and improved tire performance.

Esteban Ocon set the early rhythm for Elevated before the Ferrari couple dominated, Leclerc dislodging Sainz on top with a lap in 1:31.843 following six minutes, every one of them surpassing Perez’s prior pace.

On soft tires, Hamilton finished third, ahead of the two Alpines, as Mercedes performed better in more favorable conditions.

Hamilton appeared to be having a good time while sporting his rainbow-colored helmet and receiving an exemption from the “bling ban” to keep his nose stud. However, Stroll took the lead, only to be overtaken by Hulkenberg and then Perez in his first appearance for Haas.

The lap time of 1:31.078 set by the Mexican did not last long as the standard. In his Aston Martin, Alonso clocked a time of 1:30.907, which was fast enough to keep him 0.169 seconds ahead of Verstappen when the champion moved up to second.

‘race run’

As the field moved into ‘race run’ mode, to break down the solidness of the hard and medium compound tires in the circumstances not out of the ordinary in qualifying and the race, Perez communicated dissatisfaction.

He was instructed on how to use the switches on his steering wheel after struggling to access lap time data in his cockpit. He declared, “Man, we cannot have this.”

Additionally, Stroll was experiencing issues after suffering wrist fractures in a pre-season cycling accident.

He admitted, when asked to give up Turn One for a better line in Turn Two: I can´t. Not with the hands…” Newcomers Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant, of McLaren and Williams, finished 15th and 20th, respectively. Fellow rookie Nyck de Vries, who had only raced as a reserve one race earlier, finished 19th for Alpha Tauri, one spot behind Yuki Tsunoda’s teammate.

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