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Leclerc sets the pace as second morning of pre-season testing ends early

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track

Charles Leclerc was leading the way for Ferrari when the second morning of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit came to an early end due to a required track inspection.

Leclerc, who had worked his way down to a time of 1m 31.750s on Pirelli’s medium C3 rubber, ran over a drain cover on the approach to Turn 11 and left some debris on the circuit.

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With the red flags thrown, replays showed Lewis Hamilton – making his 2024 testing debut in the Mercedes W15 – also striking the debris, before Leclerc drove over it for a second time.

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A track inspection was then initiated and, after a delay of around 40 minutes, the decision was taken to end the morning session an hour early and instead extend the afternoon running – which will now take place from 1400 to 1900 local time.

Leclerc finished the session just over half a second clear of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, with the Williams of Logan Sargeant, the Red Bull of Sergio Perez and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso completing the top five.

READ MORE: Who’s driving on Day 2 of pre-season testing in Bahrain?

Perez, also making his first appearance of the week, experienced a couple of wild moments as he got to grips with the RB20, locking up heavily into Turn 8 hairpin and then just about managing to hold a slide through the high-speed Turn 7.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes

Oscar Piastri was second fastest on the timing sheets during the morning session in Bahrain

Hamilton wound up sixth after his meeting with the debris, which led to detailed garage checks for himself and Leclerc, followed by Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

The morning order was completed by Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, with more than six seconds covering the field as teams carried out a wide range of programmes.

LIVE COVERAGE: Follow all the action from Day 2 of Pre-Season Testing

As per Wednesday’s action, the majority of teams will carry out driver changes over the lunch break, with only Hamilton and Sargeant set to complete the full day.

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