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For Mercedes, a ‘difficult’ second day of F1 pre-season testing

The Silver Arrows see day two of testing cut short due to a hydraulic failure

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Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day One Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images

The first day of pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit brought hope for Mercedes.

The second day? It brought something much different.


After a first day of testing that the team called “productive,” allowing the team to believe that their aerodynamic issues from 2022 were well in the rear-view mirror, their second session on Thursday was cut short, and the Silver Arrows ended their day early having run the fewest laps out of all ten teams.

After Lewis Hamilton completed 72 laps during the morning session, teammate George Russell took to the track for Mercedes’ afternoon session. But early in his run, Russell could not get the Mercedes W14 to shift out of fourth gear, and his steering wheel flashed an indication that the car had experienced a hydraulic failure. Russell brought the W14 to a stop on the track, and waited for help to arrive:

The issue brought an early close to Mercedes’ day.

“Unfortunately, we had an hydraulic issue this afternoon which cost us some running. Even though we didn’t complete our full programme, we uncovered some interesting things in the data throughout the day,” said Russell after his day was cut short in a statement provided to media including SBNation. “That is a positive and we will analyse these overnight with the aim of finding lap time. We haven’t unlocked everything yet in the W14 and everyone is working hard to do so and maximise our final day of testing tomorrow.”

Even Hamilton, who completed his session in the morning, called the day “difficult” as the team struggled with tyre temperatures during his run.

“It was a difficult morning,” said Hamilton at the end of the day. “The hot temperatures made it challenging with the tyres overheating, as we often see here in Bahrain. We got through our run plan though and it was good to get that mileage in. Everyone is working incredibly hard, staying focused, and we’re discovering everything we can about the W14. We’ve got lots of work planned for the final day of pre-season testing tomorrow.”

Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, was rather blunt in his assessment of the team’s performance on the second day. “We’ve not had a strong second day; stopping on track with a reliability issue wasn’t great and we have struggled to get the car balanced well across the changing conditions,” said Shovlin after the second day of testing. “We’ve got some investigations going on to understand why this has been such a challenge today when yesterday it was fairly straight forward. That work will continue into the night and no doubt we’ll understand more come the morning. It will be interesting tomorrow to see if we can understand the drop in performance and mitigate the lost track time.”

Still, the news was not all bad for Mercedes. According to a piece from F1, the talk around Bahrain among team bosses this week has the Silver Arrows among Ferrari and Red Bull as the teams to beat this season. “I think it is quite clear, because it looks like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes are close together. The rest of the field are looking to close the gap to the front teams, and I think the midfield is quite close together,” said AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost.

Mercedes will hope to show more of that form as testing concludes on Friday.