Mercedes returns to the top on Day 2

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F1 Test, Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Following their reliability issues on the opening day, Mercedes returned to the top of the timesheets with Valtteri Bottas setting the best lap time with a 1m30.289, followed by AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly.

Mercedes's preparation for the 2021 F1 season did not get off in a perfect way yesterday as the team discovered gearbox issues on the first lap which forced the Brackley-based team to change it. The team turned up today in a much better form reliability-wise, although the W12 was suffering from balance issues.

However, the picture has suddenly changed in the afternoon when the team started to exploit the ultimate pace of its W12. Valtteri Bottas was given several sets of the two softest compounds, the C4 and the C5 and he did not fail to post the fastest time of the pre-season testing. The Finn clocked in a time of 1m30.289 on Pirelli's softest compound in the final hour of Day 2.

After Red Bull proved to be the fastest yesterday in the hands of Max Verstappen, the Milton Keynes-based team worked with Sergio Perez who made his official debut with the team today following his shakedown run at Silverstone two weeks ago. The Mexican concentrated on Pirelli's C2 Hard tyre, showing impressive speed on the hardest compound available at Bahrain.

However, the 31-year-old had a shocking moment midway through the session when part of the engine cover of his RB16B came loose and flew off his car. The session had to be suspended so that the track could be cleared.

Ferrari continued where it left off yesterday. In the morning, Carlos Sainz completed a series of long runs, testing the behaviour of Pirelli's C2 and C3 compounds. The Spaniard gave his SF21 over to Charles Leclerc, who continued to conduct tyre testing in the majority of the afternoon.

The Monegasque also joined the group of drivers going for a glory run in the closing stages of the session. Despite using several sets of Pirelli's C4 and C5 compounds, the 23-year-old was unable to impress with the speed of his car, posting a time of 1m30.886 that was only good enough for P6.

Ahead of its return as a works team, Aston Martin showed impressive speed with Lance Stoll behind the wheel. The Canadian ended up third fastest with a time of 1m30.460, racking up a total of 70 laps in the afternoon.

However, Sebastian Vettel's day was less successful after he was hit by gearbox problems. The German was eager to get acquainted with his new car today, but he only notched up a total of ten laps in the morning.