Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu beat Max Verstappen to take the lead on the second day of 2023 Formula 1 pre-season testing after the Mercedes suffered an engine failure due to a hydraulic failure.
After taking over from team-mate Sergio Perez for the afternoon session, Verstappen immediately lit up the timesheet in the Red Bull RB19, going top with a 1m31.650s on the C3 tyres.
The reigning world champion, who spent the entire opening day of test driving for Red Bull on Thursday, systematically advanced his test program as some rivals did not focus on performance runs until the final hours of the day.
Zhou completed the day in an Alfa Romeo C43 with 30 minutes to go, strapped on a set of C5 tyres, and clocked a 1m31.610s to beat Verstappen by 0.040s.
Mercedes missed the final 90 minutes of track action as George Russell suffered a hydraulic failure that stuck him in fourth gear and triggered a breakdown-related red flag.
That left Mercedes adrift on 98 laps for the day, with Russell adding 26 to teammate Lewis Hamilton’s 72 from the morning before the team sat down at the end of the afternoon session to investigate the issue.
Fernando Alonso set a 1m32.205s third in the Aston Martin on C3 tires as he ended only the second day of testing with teammate Lance Stroll injured.
F1 rookie Nyck de Vries was another driver to try the softer compounds at the end of the day and finished fourth with his AlphaTauri using C4 tyres.
Nico Hulkenberg pipped Haas to fifth, helped by running on C4 compound tyres, moving Friday morning leader Carlos Sainz to sixth overall for Ferrari.
Logan Sgt impressed Williams by reaching 154 laps ahead of his new F1 season – more than any driver on Friday – and finished seventh ahead of the sister Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who spent the afternoon primarily running a race simulation.
McLaren’s new signing Oscar Piastre defied team concerns with the MCL60 to finish ninth, with teammate Lando Norris running 16th in the morning session.
Alpine duo Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were 11th and separated by Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in 13th, ahead of the Mercedes pair separated by Red Bull’s Perez.
The final 15 minutes of both sessions were used for race control procedures, but the afternoon session saw two late mechanical problems for Williams and Alfa Romeo.
Sergeant pulled out of the Williams in the pitlane for a suspected electrical problem the team was testing, while Jaw was rescued from the pit exit by Alfa Romeo mechanics following an engine problem.
Pre-season testing for the 2023 F1 season concludes in Bahrain on Saturday.
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