SAKIR, Bahrain—Zhou Guanyu might have been criticized for his rookie season, but the Chinese driver made an impression to remain on the Alfa Romeo Sauber team, and Friday at the Sakir International Circuit, Gunayu put on a set of soft tyres on the second day of formula one pre-season testing and ended up posting the fastest time of 1:31:610 for 132 laps, just edging out Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by 0.040 seconds.

Fernando Alonso kept his Aston Martin in the top three with a great performance for the second day in a row. Nyck de Vries improved with his Alpha Tauri by taking fourth, with Haas F1’s Nico Hulkenberg also continuing to improve as well in fifth.

Ferrari had a less than stellar day, putting Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in sixth and eighth places, respectively.

American and Williams driver Logan Sargeant impressed, with a fine seventh, with McLaren’s’ Oscar Piastri and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly rounding out the top ten.

Mercedes turned out to be the team with the most troubles on day two, with Lewis Hamilton driving in the morning session, but was struggling with the handling of his new car and found it difficult to go around corners. On the other side of the garage, George Russell was one victim of causing a red flag that ended the Briton’s day, the problem being a hydraulic issue. Russell ended up 15th, while teammate Hamilton took 17th.

George Russell looks on in disbelief as his Mercedes test day is cut short due to a hydraulic issue. Getty Images photo

Sergio Perez returned to the test track for this season, but could not do much more than 14th overall, as like everyone else starting for the year, trying to get used to his new set up.

For the rest of the 17 testers on this day, Kevin Magnussen put the other Haas F1 car in 11th, Esteban Ocon 12thin the Alpine, with the last two testers finishing at the bottom as Lando Norris was 16th in the second McLaren, and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the grid with 17th in his Alpha Tauri.

Although the results at this circuit won’t really matter for the upcoming season, it is a good idea for the drivers having to get used to their new cars and improve as the season goes along. One day remains on Saturday for the grid to give it another try.

By Mark Gero

Zhou Guanyu was the driver of the day, by changing to soft rubber gave him the quickest time on day two of formula one pre-testing. Getty Images photo.