Bottas finishes top as day two of testing closes out - F1 Testing 2021

Day two of testing ended with Valtteri Bottas topping the timesheet, followed closely by Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll. It wasn't the easiest session for the Mercedes, however, they did pick up from the troublesome morning session that they had.

Quiet Start

The session got off to a slow start, with the Haas of Mick Schumacher setting the first time of the afternoon session, followed shortly by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. It seemed that the later session would be one dominated by longer runs, a trend that Gasly would follow, as the Alpha Tauri used the hard compound to great effect.

There was no sign of Mercedes for the first hour of the session, however, when Bottas did emerge from the garage, the early woes seemed to continue, as the Finn managed to find the outer limits of the track on his out-lap. This was following on from a particularly underwhelming session in the morning from teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas took to track for a second time after an hour and a half to put in a lap that saw him go 11th on the timing screens, before setting into the long run rhythm, similar to other drivers on track.

Lando's missing laps 

Lando Norris had a strange session. The young Brit, entering his third season behind the wheel at McLaren, managed to put in 16 laps without setting a time for the session.

It was visible that Norris was 'scrubbing the tires' with some very hard turning into nearly every corner of the lap. It was speculated by Will Buxton that the reason for this was due to McLaren being "So far through their run plan" that they were actually running out of things to do.

Lando would complete his first timed laps at the two-hour mark, setting a time 2.277 seconds off his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo's time of the morning session. Later on, topping the grid, going almost a second quicker than the Australian.

First signs of action

The most exciting moment of the session came a short period after when Gasly and Nicholas Latifi came close to giving us the first 'Wheel to wheel' action of the season. It took Gasly a couple of laps to pass the Canadian in the Williams, with a dive into turn one leading to the pass. 

Concerningly, Gasly took those laps with full DRS, and looked to struggle behind the Williams, potentially calling into question the effectiveness of the DRS on the Alpha Tauri. However once the pass was made, the Frenchman managed to pass and pull out a gap.

With just under an hour and a half left of the day, the times started getting quicker as drivers eased off of the long runs that had taken up much of the day. Gasly managed to take the Alpha Tauri to third place in the timings, with Sergio Perez in the Red Bull going fourth. 

Perez would also be involved in some drama around the same time, as the Mexican tried to pass Latifi, the engine cover of his car disintegrated, leaving a flurry of material on the pit straight, leading to a red flag. The Red Bull was scrambled back to the pits a lap later, with mechanics flanking the sides of the car to stop anyone catching a glimpse of the new engine.

Closing out the day

Following the red flag restart, it would be the Alfa Romeo Sauber of Antonio Giovinazzi who would go to the top of the times with a 1:30:881, which a lap later, would be topped by Gasly by six-hundredths of a second.

Ultimately, it would be the Mercedes of Bottas that would finish the session at the top of the timings, however, it did take moving onto the C5 tires to do so. The real winners when it came to laps completed were Latifi, Giovinazzi, and Fernando Alonso, who all managed to finish the day on more than 120 laps each, with a handful more tipping over 100. 

It will go down as a frustrating day for both Mercedes and Ferrari, who struggled to gain consistency throughout the day.