Mercedes surprise the field in Bahrain GP FP2 with Verstappen off the pace

Daniel Ricciardo and the McLaren pairing had been the pacesetters in Bahrain before FP2

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Mercedes struck a surprise 1-2 in FP2 for the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix led by Lewis Hamilton, who looked more comfortable in the W15 than George Russell while Fernando Alonso rounded out the top three.

Max Verstappen was a distant sixth and half a second behind Hamilton while Sergio Perez could only manage tenth and at another three-tenths back.

Alonso managed to get within a tenth of Russell but was still well behind Hamilton, though it remains to be seen how representative those laptimes are of team performance with particular questions about engine power.

Red Bull looked more competitive on race pace with Verstappen lapping comfortably in the 1:36s though, while Perez couldn’t quite keep up with his teammate but still looked strong compared to the other frontrunning teams.

Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri completed the top five separated by just 0.015 seconds, though McLaren look like they could be outsiders for the podium fight for the opening few races of the season.

RB couldn’t replicate their stunning pace from FP1, where they finished first and fourth, with Daniel Ricciardo the fastest Racing Bull in 12th and well over a second behind Hamilton.

Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise face in seventh – but his time less than a tenth behind Verstappen indicates the Red Bull has more to give, while Lance Stroll in eighth completed the set of drivers around half a second behind Hamilton with a notable gap to ninth-placed Charles Leclerc.

Mercedes false dawn or genuine threat?

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix practice | Mercedes / LAT Images
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix practice | Mercedes / LAT Images

Mercedes hit the front in the first half of the session and stayed there in an incident-free session, the only running in representative conditions before qualifying on Friday afternoon.

Piastri did run a strong race simulation for McLaren – a weakness from his pre-season testing performance – and their boss Zak Brown didn’t seem overly concerned by the Silver Arrows.

Brown predicted Red Bull were holding performance back particularly in terms of their engine power, but still respected Mercedes, telling Sky Sports: “Mercedes look very strong, it’s a good laptime and based on how much you get when you turn up the engine, it looks like a good car.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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