Kevin Magnussen produced two high quality laps on the super-soft tyres to go fastest by over 1.5 seconds on day two in Bahrain.
The Dane’s 1:34.910 was within 2.7 seconds of Nico Rosberg’s pole position time last year perhaps easing concerns the new V6 cars would be too slow.
Sebastian Vettel also finally had a productive day as Red Bull doubled their tally for the whole of pre-season testing so far and completed over a full race distance of 300km on Thursday, his fastest time was over five seconds down on Magnussen’s best but that won’t worry the world champions just yet.
Nico Hulkenberg claimed a good second for Force India and though we aren’t sure which tyre he used to set the second best time of the day, it is likely fuel and tyres had some part in the 1.5 second gap between himself and the leading McLaren.
Fernando Alonso was third for Ferrari as once again the Italian marque remain the only team challenging Mercedes’ dominance of the timings, the Spaniard also completed some good mileage managing four short of 100 laps of the Sakhir circuit.
German power took four of the first five positions as Nico Rosberg took fourth and Valtteri Bottas fifth for Williams.
Unlike in the previous few testing days however the Mercedes works team didn’t have a particularly smooth start with the W05 causing two red flag periods in the morning however they recovered and Robserg completed another 400km.
The distinction of completing the most laps however went to Williams as Bottas managed 116 laps, just one shy of Red Bull and Toro Rosso combined as the two Renault powered, Austrian backed teams achieved 59 and 58 laps respectively.
Despite their mileage neither Red Bull team had the most mileage or the fastest time for a French powered car, instead it was Caterham who again took that prize with 66 laps and the sixth best time with the champions seventh and Vergne’s STR9 eighth.
Esteban Gutierrez continued Sauber’s quiet pre-season with a 55 lap total on day two and the ninth best time while Lotus too were also concentrating on getting to grips with their new E22 as Romain Grosjean second bottom on both the timings and the distance covered.
Finally Marussia brought up the rear as Max Chilton was forced to finish early due to technical problems.
There was plenty to take from today and much of it can bring comfort to Red Bull and their fans, the RB10 finally achieved a respectable number of laps and Mercedes reminded us their reliability is not yet bullet proof.
But it is McLaren who will be happiest because even through that time was set with a tyre not usually used in Bahrain, surely, given the times we are expecting, that sub 1:35 lap will remain one of the quickest times seen this week and after the turmoil of 2013 maybe the Woking team and their young hot-rod have quickly turned a corner.
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